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© 1996 by The University of Chicago 
All rights reserved Published 1996 
Paperback edition 1998 
Printed in the United States of America 

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ISBN 0-226-50035-7 (cloth) 

ISBN 0-226-50036-5 (paperback) 

ISBN 978-0-226-50033-1 (e-book) 

The Press acknowledges the generous contribution of 
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation 
toward the publication of this book 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Machiavelli, Niccolo, 1469-1527 

[Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio English] 

Discourses on Livy / Niccolo Machiavelli; translated by Harvey C Mansfield and Nathan Tarcov 
p cm 

Includes bibliographical references and index 
ISBN 0-226-50035-7 (cloth alk paper) 

1 Livy 2 Political science—Early works to 1800 I Mansheld, Harvey Clahn, 1932- II Tarcov, 
Nathan III Title 
JC143.M16313 1996 
320 973—dc20 



The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National 
Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, 

ANSI Z39 48-1992 




Translated by 

Harvey C. Mansfield 

Nathan Tarcov 

Chicago & London 


List of Abbreviations 
Suggested Readings 
A Note on the Translation 
Translators’ Acknowledgments 
Dedicatory Letter 

first Book 


1. What Have Been Universally the Beginnings of Any City Whatever, and 
What Was That of Rome 

2. Of How Many Species Are Republics, and Which Was the Roman 

3. What Accidents Made the Tribunes of the Plebs Be Created in Rome, 
Which Made the Republic More Perfect 

4. That the Disunion of the Plebs and the Roman Senate Made That 
Republic Free and Powerful 

5. Where the Guard of Freedom May Be Settled More Securely, in the 
People or in the Great; and Which Has Greater Cause for Tumult, He Who 
Wishes to Acquire or He Who Wishes to Maintain 

6. Whether a State Could Have Been Ordered in Rome That Would Have 
Taken Away the Enmities between the People and the Senate 

7. How Far Accusations May Be Necessary in a Republic to Maintain It in 

8. As Much As Accusations Are Useful to Republics, So Much Are 
Calumnies Pernicious 

9. That It Is Necessary to Be Alone If One Wishes to Order a Republic 
Anew or to Reform It Altogether outside Its Ancient Orders 

10. As Much As the Founders of a Republic and of a Kingdom Are 
Praiseworthy, So Much Those of a Tyranny Are Worthy of Reproach 

11. Of the Religion of the Romans 


12. Of How Much Importance It Is to Take Account of Religion, and How 
Italy, for Lacking It by Means of the Roman Church, Has Been Ruined 

13. How the Romans Made Religion Serve to Reorder the City and to Carry 
Out Their Enterprises and to Stop Tumults 

14. The Romans Interpreted the Auspices according to Necessity, and with 
Prudence Made a Show of Observing Religion When Forced Not to 
Observe It; and If Anyone Rashly Disdained It, They Punished Him 

15. The Samnites, as an Extreme Remedy for the Things Afflicting Them, 
Had Recourse to Religion 

16. A People Used to Living under a Prince Maintains Its Freedom with 
Difficulty, If by Some Accident It Becomes Free 

17. Having Come to Freedom, a Corrupt People Can with the Greatest 
Difficulty Maintain Itself Free 

18. In What Mode a Free State, If There Is One, Can Be Maintained in 
Corrupt Cities; or, If There Is Not, in What Mode to Order It 

19. After an Excellent Prince a Weak Prince Can Maintain Himself, but 
after a Weak One No Kingdom Can Be Maintained by Another Weak One 

20. Two Virtuous Princes in Succession Produce Great Effects; and That 
Well-Ordered Republics Have of Necessity Virtuous Successions, and So 
Their Acquisitions and Increases Are Great 

21. How Much Blame That Prince and That Republic Merit That Lack 
Their Own Arms 

22. What Is to Be Noted in the Case of the Three Roman Horatii and the 
Three Alban Curiatii 

23. That One Should Not Put All One’s Fortune in Danger, and Not All 
One’s Forces; and Because of This, the Guarding of Passes Is Often Harmful 

24. Well-Ordered Republics Institute Rewards and Punishments for Their 
Citizens and Never Counterbalance One with the Other 

25. He Who Wishes to Reform an Antiquated State in a Free City May 
Retain at Least the Shadow of Its Ancient Modes 

26. A New Prince Should Make Everything New in a City or Province 
Taken by Him 

27. Very Rarely Do Men Know How to Be Altogether Wicked or Altogether 

28. For What Cause the Romans Were Less Ungrateful toward Their 
Citizens Than the Athenians 


29. Which Is More Ungrateful, a People or a Prince 

30. Which Modes a Prince or a Republic Should Use So As to Avoid the 
Vice of Ingratitude; and Which a Captain or a Citizen Should Use So As 
Not to Be Crushed by It 

31. That the Roman Captains Were Never Extraordinarily Punished for an 
Error Committed; nor Were They Ever Punished When Harm Resulted to 
the Republic through Their Ignorance or through Bad Policies Adopted by 

32. A Republic or a Prince Should Not Defer Benefiting Men in Their 

33. When an Inconvenience Has Grown Either in a State or against a State, 
the More Salutary Policy Is to Temporize with It Rather Than to Strike at It 

34. The Dictatorial Authority Did Good, and Not Harm, to the Roman 
Republic; and That the Authorities Citizens Take for Themselves, Not 
Those Given Them by Free Votes, Are Pernicious to Civil Life 

35. The Cause Why the Creation of the Decemvirate in Rome Was Hurtful 
to the Freedom of That Republic, Notwithstanding That It Was Created by 
Public and Free Votes 

36. Citizens Who Have Had Greater Honors Should Not Disdain Lesser 

37. What Scandals the Agrarian Law Gave Birth to in Rome; and That to 
Make a Law in a Republic That Looks Very Far Back and Is against an 
Ancient Custom of the City Is Most Scandalous 

38. Weak Republics Are Hardly Resolute and Do Not Know How to Decide; 
and If They Ever Take Up Any Policy, It Arises More from Necessity Than 
from Choice 

39. In Diverse Peoples the Same Accidents May Often Be Seen 

40. The Creation of the Decemvirate in Rome, and What Is to Be Noted in 
It; Where It Is Considered, among Many Other Things, How through Such 
an Accident One Can Either Save or Crush a Republic 

41. To Leap from Humility to Pride, from Mercy to Cruelty, without Due 
Degrees Is Something Imprudent and Useless 

42. How Easily Men Can Be Corrupted 

43. Those Who Engage in Combat for Their Own Glory Are Good and 
Faithful Soldiers 


44. A Multitude without a Head Is Useless; and That One Should Not First 
Threaten and Then Request Authority 

45. Nonobservance of a Law That Has Been Made, and Especially by Its 
Author, Is a Thing That Sets a Bad Example; and to Freshen New Injuries 
Every Day in a City Is Most Harmful to Whoever Governs It 

46. Men Ascend from One Ambition to Another; First One Seeks Not to Be 
Offended, and Then One Offends Others 

47. However Deceived in Generalities, Men Are Not Deceived in 

48. He Who Wishes That a Magistracy Not Be Given to Someone Vile or 
Someone Wicked Should Have It Asked for Either by Someone Too Vile 
and Too Wicked or by Someone Too Noble and Too Good 

49. If Those Cities That Have had a Free Beginning, Such as Rome, Have 
Difficulty in Finding Laws That Will Maintain Them, Those That Have Had 
One Immediately Servile Have Almost an Impossibility 

50. One Council or One Magistrate Should Not Be Able to Stop the Actions 
of Cities 

51. A Republic or a Prince Should Make a Show of Doing through 
Liberality What Necessity Constrains Him to Do 

52. To Repress the Insolence of One Individual Who Rises Up in a Powerful 
Republic, There Is No More Secure and Less Scandalous Mode Than to 
Anticipate the Ways by Which He Comes to That Power 

53. Many Times the People Desires Its Own Ruin, Deceived by a False 
Appearance of Good; and That Great Hopes and Mighty Promises Easily 
Move It 

54. How Much Authority a Grave Man May Have to Check an Excited 

55. How Easily Things May Be Conducted in Those Cities in Which the 
Multitude Is Not Corrupt; and That Where There Is Equality, a Principality 
Cannot Be Made, and Where There Is Not, a Republic Cannot Be Made 

56. Before Great Accidents Occur in a City or in a Province, Signs Come 
That Forecast Them, or Men Who Predict Them 

57. The Plebs Together Is Mighty, by Itself Weak 

58. The Multitude Is Wiser and More Constant Than a Prince 

59. Which Confederation or Other League Can Be More Trusted, That 
Made with a Republic or That Made with a Prince 


60. That the Consulate and Any Other Magistracy Whatever in Rome Was 
Given without Respect to Age 

Second Book 


1. Which Was More the Cause of the Empire the Romans Acquired, Virtue 
or Fortune 

2. What Peoples the Romans Had to Combat, and That They Obstinately 
Defended Their Freedom 

3. Rome Became a Great City through Ruining the Surrounding Cities and 
Easily Admitting Foreigners to Its Honors 

4. Republics Have Taken Three Modes of Expanding 

5. That the Variation of Sects and Fanguages, Together with the Accident 
of Roods or Plague, Eliminates the Memories of Things 

6. How the Romans Proceeded in Making War 

7. How Much Fand the Romans Gave per Colonist 

8. The Cause Why Peoples Feave Their Ancestral Places and Inundate the 
Country of Others 

9. What Causes Commonly Make Wars Arise among Powers 

10. Money Is Not the Sinew of War, As It Is according to the Common 

11. It Is Not a Prudent Policy to Make a Friendship with a Prince Who Has 
More Reputation Than Force 

12. Whether, When Fearing to Be Assaulted, It Is Better to Bring On or 
Await War 

13. That One Comes from Base to Great Fortune More through Fraud Than 
through Force 

14. Often Men Deceive Themselves Believing That through Humility They 
Will Conquer Pride 

15. Weak States Will Always Be Ambiguous in Their Resolutions; and Slow 
Decisions Are Always Hurtful 

16. How Much the Soldiers of Our Times Do Not Conform to the Ancient 

17. How Much Artillery Should Be Esteemed by Armies in the Present 
Times; and Whether the Opinion Universally Held of It Is True 


18. How by the Authority of the Romans and by the Example of the Ancient 
Military Infantry Should Be Esteemed More Than Horse 

19. That Acquisitions by Republics That Are Not Well Ordered and That Do 
Not Proceed according to Roman Virtue Are for Their Ruin, Not Their 

20. What Danger That Prince or Republic Runs That Avails Itself of 
Auxiliary or Mercenary Military 

21. The First Praetor the Romans Sent Anyplace Was to Capua, Four 
Hundred Years after They Began to Make War 

22. How False the Opinions of Men Often Are in Judging Great Things 

23. How Much the Romans, in Judging Subjects for Some Accidents That 
Necessitated Such Judgment, Fled from the Middle Way 

24. Fortresses Are Generally Much More Harmful Than Useful 

25. To Assault a Disunited City So As to Seize It by Means of Its Disunion 
Is a Contradictory Policy 

26. Vilification and Abuse Generate Hatred against Those Who Use Them, 
without Any Utility to Them 

27. For Prudent Princes and Republics It Should Be Enough to Conquer, for 
Most Often When It Is Not Enough, One Foses 

28. How Dangerous It Is for a Republic or a Prince Not to Avenge an Injury 
Done against the Public or against a Private Person 

29. Fortune Blinds the Spirits of Men When It Does Not Wish Them to 
Oppose Its Plans 

30. Truly Powerful Republics and Princes Buy Friendships Not with Money 
but with Virtue and the Reputation of Strength 

31. How Dangerous It Is to Believe the Banished 

32. In How Many Modes the Romans Seized Towns 

33. How the Romans Gave Free Commissions to Their Captains of Armies 

m Third Book 

1. If One Wishes a Sect or a Republic to Five Fong, It Is Necessary to Draw 
It Back Often toward Its Beginning 

2. That It Is a Very Wise Thing to Simulate Craziness at the Right Time 

3. That It Is Necessary to Kill the Sons of Brutus If One Wishes to Maintain 
a Newly Acquired Freedom 


4. A Prince Does Not Live Secure in a Principality While Those Who Have 
Been Despoiled of It Are Living 

5. What Makes a King Who Is Heir to a Kingdom Lose It 

6. Of Conspiracies 

7. Whence It Arises That Changes from Freedom to Servitude and from 
Servitude to Freedom Are Some of Them without Blood, Some of Them 
Full of It 

8. Whoever Wishes to Alter a Republic Should Consider Its Subject 

9. How One Must Vary with the Times if One Wishes Always to Have Good 

10. That a Captain Cannot Flee Battle When the Adversary Wishes Him to 
Engage in It in Any Mode 

11. That Whoever Has to Deal with Very Many, Even Though He Is 
Inferior, Wins If Only He Can Sustain the First Thrusts 

12. That a Prudent Captain Ought to Impose Every Necessity to Engage in 
Combat on His Soldiers and Take It Away from Those of Enemies 

13. Which Is More to Be Trusted, a Good Captain Who Has a Weak Army 
or a Good Army That Has a Weak Captain 

14. What Effects New Inventions That Appear in the Middle of the Fight 
and New Voices That Are Heard May Produce 

15. That One Individual and Not Many Should Be Put over an Army; and 
That Several Commanders Hurt 

16. That in Difficult Times One Goes to Find True Virtue; and in Easy 
Times Not Virtuous Men but Those with Riches or Kinship Have More 

17. That One Individual Should Not Be Offended and Then That Same One 
Sent to an Administration and Governance of Importance 

18. Nothing Is More Worthy of a Captain Than to Foretell the Policies of 
the Enemy 

19. Whether to Rule a Multitude Compliance Is More Necessary Than 

20. One Example of Humanity Was Able to Do More with the Falisci Than 
Any Roman Force 

21. Whence It Arises That with a Different Mode of Proceeding Hannibal 
Produced Those Same Effects in Italy as Scipio Did in Spain 


22. That the Hardness of Manlius Torquatus and the Kindness of Valerius 
Corvinus Acquired for Each the Same Glory 

23. For What Cause Camillus Was Expelled from Rome 

24. The Prolongation of Commands Made Rome Servile 

25. Of the Poverty of Cincinnatus and of Many Roman Citizens 

26. How a State Is Ruined Because of Women 

27. How One Has to Unite a Divided City; and How That Opinion Is Not 
True That to Hold Cities One Needs to Hold Them Divided 

28. That One Should Be Mindful of the Works of Citizens Because Many 
Times underneath a Merciful Work a Beginning of Tyranny Is Concealed 

29. That the Sins of Peoples Arise from Princes 

30. For One Citizen Who Wishes to Do Any Good Work in His Republic by 
His Authority, It Is Necessary First to Eliminate Envy; and How, on Seeing 
the Enemy, One Has to Order the Defense of a City 

31. Strong Republics and Excellent Men Retain the Same Spirit and Their 
Same Dignity in Every Fortune 

32. What Modes Some Have Held to for Disturbing a Peace 

33. If One Wishes to Win a Battle, It Is Necessary to Make the Army 
Confident Both among Themselves and in the Captain 

34. What Fame or Word or Opinion Makes the People Begin to Favor a 
Citizen; and Whether It Distributes Magistracies with Greater Prudence 
Than a Prince 

35. What Dangers Are Borne in Making Oneself Head in Counseling a 
Thing; and the More It Has of the Extraordinary, the Greater Are the 
Dangers Incurred in It 

36. The Causes Why the French Have Been and Are Still Judged in Fights at 
the Beginning As More Than Men and Later As Less Than Women 

37. Whether Small Battles Are Necessary before the Main Battle; and If 
One Wishes to Avoid Them, What One Ought to Do to Know a New Enemy 

38. How a Captain in Whom His Army Can Have Confidence Ought to Be 

39. That a Captain Ought to Be a Knower of Sites 

40. That to Use Fraud in Managing War Is a Glorious Thing 

41. That the Fatherland Ought to Be Defended, Whether with Ignominy or 
with Glory; and It Is Well Defended in Any Mode Whatever 


42. That Promises Made through Force Ought Not to Be Observed 

43. That Men Who Are Born in One Province Observe Almost the Same 
Nature for All Times 

44. One Often Obtains with Impetuosity and Audacity What One Would 
Never Have Obtained through Ordinary Modes 

45. What the Better Policy Is in Battles, to Resist the Thrust of Enemies 
and, Having Resisted It, to Charge Them; or Indeed to Assault Them with 
Fury from the First 

46. Whence It Arises That One Family in One City Keeps the Same 
Customs for a Time 

47. That a Good Citizen Ought to Forget Private Injuries for Love of His 

48. When One Sees a Great Error Made by an Enemy, One Ought to Believe 
That There Is a Deception Underneath 

49. A Republic Has Need of New Acts of Foresight Every Day If One 
Wishes to Maintain It Free; and for What Merits Quintus Fabius Was 
Called Maximus 



Index of Proper Names 



AW Machiavelli, The Art of War 

D Machiavelli, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy 
FH Machiavelli, Florentine Histories 
Livy Titus Livy, Ah urbe condita 
NM Niccolo Machiavelli 
P Machiavelli, The Prince 


In this introduction we offer a quick tour through Machiavelli’s Discourses 
on Livy. We shall mark the four-star attractions that tourists will want to 
visit repeatedly and wish to remember. The great Machiavellian themes of 
politics, morality, fortune, necessity, and religion will be set forth, together 
with the controversies they have touched off. For Machiavelli, to say the 
least, did not write in such a mode as to prevent dispute about what he said. 
We consider the fact that Machiavelli wrote at the same time two very 
different books on the whole of politics, The Prince and the Discourses. We 
provide a brief appraisal of the latter’s scholarly reputation today as the first 
source of classical republicanism, as the recollection of ancient liberty that 
calls us to venture from the settled and secure realm of property and self- 
interest. And we present Machiavelli himself, not a disengaged philosopher 
but the instigator in the schemes he advised, an actor in his own enterprise 
of bringing “new modes and orders ... for [the] common benefit of 
everyone” (D I pr.l). As befits an introduction, we try to speak with both 
modesty and authority. 

Machiavelli and the Renaissance 

Machiavelli lived in the Renaissance, and the Renaissance lived in 
Machiavelli; the communion between the man and the time seems 
complete. Jacob Burckhardt, the nineteenth-century historian who 
established our idea of “the Renaissance” and who despite new discoveries 
still reigns over it, gave Machiavelli the greatest prominence in that period 
and allowed him to define its politics in the section of his famous book The 
Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy titled “The State as a Work of Art.” 

The Renaissance is a rebirth, the rebirth of the classical times of ancient 
Greece and Rome. These times had already been reborn, one could say, 
with the rediscovery of Aristotle in the twelfth century and his adoption by 
the Christian church, after initial rejections, through the immense 
achievements and good offices of Thomas Aquinas. It is not customary to 
consider the work of the scholastics as a renaissance, however, because the 
distinction between human reason and divine law, required for the adoption 
of the pagan Aristotle into Christian learning, did not liberate human beings 


from the tutelage of the church. Even more wayward souls such as Dante or 
Marsilius of Padua in the early fourteenth century did not take this step; 
they remained within the broad ambit of scholasticism and stayed true to 
Aristotle. In Italy later in the fourteenth century Petrarch led a change in 
the direction of greater freedom from the church, which now seemed to 
require greater freedom from Aristotle. Petrarch criticized those who 
thought every problem could be solved by pronouncing the five syllables in 
Aristotle’s name (so it is in Latin) and declared himself an admirer of 
Cicero. 1 Cicero became, as it has been said, the principal figure of the 
Renaissance. Cicero’s rhetoric, as well as his philosophy, came to receive 
the attention of the learned, and the goal of Renaissance rhetoric became 
the promotion of a morality of Roman manliness ( virtus ) that Cicero had 
glowingly described. 

This movement, led by Petrarch in Italy and including such illustrious 
names as Coluccio Salutati, Leonardo Bruni, Marsilio Licino, and Pico 
della Mirandola, was pronounced to be the Renaissance. Part of it is also 
known as humanism because it concentrated on humane studies, or the 
“humanities,” rather than physics, metaphysics, and theology, and it was the 
immediate intellectual inheritance for anyone born in Machiavelli’s time. 
But Machiavelli refused it almost totally and made his own way against his 
time. In the Discourses he refers to only three modern authors—Dante, 
Lorenzo de’ Medici, and Llavio Biondo—in contrast to nineteen ancient 
ones. Although the notion of rebirth implies in itself dissatisfaction with 
current ways, Machiavelli was profoundly dissatisfied with the Renaissance 
he saw underway. At the beginning of the Discourses he complains that 
those of his time are content to honor antiquity by buying fragments of 
ancient statues for their homes and having them imitated rather than by 
imitating the “ancient virtue” in politics, of which no sign remains (D I pr.). 
To remedy their political ills, he continues, they go to the ancient jurists, 
not to the examples set by ancient princes, republics, and captains. 

Thus Machiavelli accepts the necessity of returning to the ancients 
because they were superior to the moderns, but, waving aside the marvelous 
works of art created in his own lifetime and even in his own city of Llorence 
under his very eyes, he calls for imitating the deeds of the ancients. He 
shares in the new esteem for Rome but carries it to the point of preferring 
Rome to Greece and adopting the imperial Roman republic, and not the 
Greek polis, as his model. Together with his six references to “ancient 
virtue” in the Discourses are four to Roman virtue but none to Greek. 
Ancient virtue is to be found mainly with the Romans, and especially in the 


Roman historian Titus Livy, who narrates the deeds of the republican 
Romans. Because deeds take precedence over words, Rome has primacy 
over Greece and the historians over the philosophers. Machiavelli’s 
complaint against the Renaissance can be seen in his low opinion of Cicero, 
not a hero for him. Cicero used rhetoric to advance the cause of philosophy, 
a Greek discovery, in a Rome suspicious of the influence of Greek softness. 
Machiavelli accuses both rhetoric and philosophy of attempting to rule 
deeds with words, and he shows sympathy for Cato’s desire to rid Rome of 
foreign philosophy that corrupts the virtue of doers (D III 1.3; FH V 1). He 
too objects to softness, the idleness or leisure ( ozio ) of contemplators, both 
philosophic and religious, who look down on doers. 

Despite its literal meaning as the “rebirth” of something old, the 
Renaissance is better known as the beginning of something new that has 
come to be called modernity. It is doubtful that the Renaissance would have 
that meaning were it not for Machiavelli. For modernity is not merely 
something new but also a new idea that favors innovation in principle and 
constantly promotes new ideas and institutions, a change that wants to be 
receptive to further change. Whatever is modern does not stay the same but 
keeps becoming more modern. Such are Machiavelli’s “new modes and 
orders” in the Discourses and his new prince in The Prince. Nothing like 
Machiavelli’s encouragement of innovation as such, topped off with the 
proud advertisement of his own originality, can be found in other writers of 
his time or before. If they were original, they disguised it by claiming 
merely to return to the true origins of an institution or an idea in the past 
before the present rot set in—as, for example, Marsilius of Padua claimed 
to be restoring original Christianity in his criticism of the church. 

Machiavelli’s claim of ancient virtue appears to have this character only 
at first glance. He praises ancient virtue in order to improve on it. He wants 
to free it from inhibitions placed on it by writers such as those who 
inconsiderately blamed Hannibal’s cruelty when in fact it was one of his 
infinite virtues (.P 18; D III 21.4, 40.1). This is what he means when in the 
first preface to the Discourses he speaks of the “true knowledge of the 
histories” that is lacking in his time and is responsible for the failure of 
moderns to have recourse to ancient examples (D I pr.2). Ancient virtue, it 
turns out, needs a Machiavellian interpretation to ensure that it is reported 
correctly. Even Livy, who is not the type to enthuse and philosophize about 
ancient virtue, and who is treated with such reverence by Machiavelli, needs 
at least occasionally, and perhaps generally, to be set right. Among other 
things, Livy did not properly appreciate the need for innovation; he did not 


see that the ancient virtue of actual Romans brought opportunity to new 
men to enter upon new enterprises and make new conquests. When 
examined, ancient virtue turns out to show little respect for things ancient. 
Those with virtue, like Machiavelli himself, characteristically act without 
any respect (sanza alcuno rispetto, one of his favorite phrases). 

The Machiavellian interpretation transforms ancient virtue into virtue 
proper, Machiavellian virtue. At the same time it changes the Renaissance 
from a rebirth of the ancient into the dawn of the new, the modern. When 
Machiavelli speaks of the “moderns,” it is always with disrespect, as of the 
weak. He does not openly claim that the moderns can be stronger than the 
ancients, as Francis Bacon was to do. But he offers remedies for modern 
weakness that will have the effect of making the moderns stronger than the 
ancients. “Modernity” is the opinion that the moderns are, or can become, 
stronger than the ancients—that the moderns can benefit from an 
irreversible progress in their favor. Because of Machiavelli’s contribution to 
the transformation of the Renaissance into modernity, one can say with 
faithfulness to both him and his time that he did as much for the 
Renaissance as it did for him. 

The Discourses on Livy and The Prince 

When we begin to examine Machiavelli’s remedies for modern weakness, 
we come upon an obvious difficulty that has been much discussed. 
Machiavelli is most famous today as the author of The Prince , a witty and 
attractive, proudly original, short and apparently easy, but wicked and 
dangerous book that advises princes on how to “seize absolute authority” (.P 
9) and to learn how not to be good to their subjects and friends—in short, to 
be criminally wicked tyrants. But Machiavelli has also been famous among 
devotees of republics as the author of the Discourses, which by contrast is a 
long, forbidding, apparently nostalgic, obviously difficult, but decent and 
useful book that advises citizens, leaders, reformers, and founders of 
republics on how to order them to preserve their liberty and avoid 
corruption. The relation between the two books is notoriously obscure. How 
could two such books be written by the same man, apparently at more or 
less the same time? 

The Prince appears from its first two chapters to be a dispassionate 
analysis of all kinds of principalities that does not include reasoning on 
republics only because its author has reasoned on them at length another 
time—that is, in the Discourses. But the reader soon perceives that its 


author recommends the imitation especially of what he calls “new princes,” 
private individuals who become princes of new states that they found. He 
emphasizes the most excellent and glorious examples of founders, such as 
Moses, Cyrus, Romulus, and Theseus, but he does not seem to distinguish 
them much from ordinary tyrants, such as Hiero of Syracuse, or even from 
infamous and criminal tyrants, such as Agathocles of Syracuse. Accordingly, 
he advises their imitators to come to power and rule by force and fraud. 

In contrast, the Discourses not only includes reasoning about republics but 
recommends them over principalities. Machiavelli writes a chapter entitled 
“The Multitude Is Wiser and More Constant Than a Prince” in which he 
proclaims that peoples are more stable and have better judgment than 
princes, that their governments are better, and that the people are superior 
in goodness and glory (D I 58.3). He adds that republics keep their word 
better than princes and therefore can be trusted more than princes ( D I 59). 
He also argues that the common good is observed only in republics, whereas 
usually what suits a prince hurts the city and what suits the city hurts him 
(.D II 2.1). So he concludes that “a republic has greater life and has good 
fortune longer than a principality” (D III 9.2). The Discourses praises 
republican founders and their peoples for their goodness and virtue and 
their love of liberty, the fatherland, and the common good (D I 9.2, 58.3-4; 
II 2). 

In perhaps the most famous passage in The Prince , with professed 
timidity but transparent pride, Machiavelli proclaims the work’s radical 
originality as he promises to go to the effectual truth and ignore imaginary 
states. He attacks “the writers” whose inconsistent moralism allows them to 
admire great deeds but not the cruel acts necessary to accomplish them. He 
rejects the republics and principalities of the writers as imaginary because 
they recommend a kind of goodness and virtue that leads to ruin and they 
condemn virtues necessary for preservation, such as stinginess, cruelty, and 
faithlessness. Based on his acceptance of the “very natural and ordinary 
desire to acquire” as a “necessity,” and the consequent “natural and ordinary 
necessity” to offend those whom or from whom one acquires (P 3), 
Machiavelli in The Prince abandons the moral teachings of the classical and 
biblical traditions for a new conception of virtue as the willingness and 
ability to do whatever it takes to acquire and maintain what one has 

Again, in contrast to the spirit of self-conscious innovation in The Prince , 
the Discourses is a sort of commentary on the first decade, or 10 books, of 
Livy’s history of Rome (of which most of the other 132 books are lost and 


available to us only in summary form). Machiavelli says at the beginning 
that he writes only what he judges to be necessary for readers’ greater 
understanding, as if he were merely an auxiliary to Livy and his book 
merely a supplement to Livy’s (D I pr.2). In a spirit of apparently nostalgic 
antiquarianism, Machiavelli seems at first deferential toward ancient writers 
and content with trying to stimulate love and imitation of “the most 
virtuous works the histories show us, which have been done by ancient 
kingdoms and republics” (D I pr.2), so that the spirits of youths who may 
read his writings can flee their times and prepare themselves to imitate the 
times of the ancient Romans ( D II pr.3). 

The common opinion that The Prince is an innovative but wicked and 
tyrannical book, whereas the Discourses is an antiquarian and virtuous 
republican book, leaves us shocked and puzzled as to why Machiavelli 
should have written two such opposite books. Nonetheless, the view that the 
two books are opposed to each other, although based on obvious features of 
each of them, represents only part and not the whole of Machiavelli’s 
intention. Neither book is as opposed to the other as first appears. 

The Prince is not simply about princes or tyrants, and it does not endorse 
principalities or tyrannies over republics in the way that the Discourses 
recommends republics over principalities or tyrannies. Indeed, republican 
political philosophers such as Spinoza and Rousseau understood The Prince 
to be a secretly republican book. 2 What basis is there for such a judgment? 
Although Machiavelli says early in The Prince that he will not discuss 
republics, he soon puts forward, and later confirms, the Roman republic as 
the model for wise princes (P 2-5). Romulus, the founder and first king of 
Rome, is cited among the most excellent and glorious of new princes (.P 6), 
but although a king, he is praised in the Discourses for laws establishing a 
free and civil way of life—for being the founder of a republic or 
protorepublic (D I 9.2, 18.5, 49.1; II 2.1; III 1.2). Moreover, since the new 
prince will want to maintain his state and his glory for a long life and even 
after his death, he will find that founding a republic is the best way to do so. 
He might first think of establishing a hereditary principality, in which he 
would be succeeded by others of his bloodline. But enemies may eliminate 
not only him but also his bloodline, precisely so that they will not be 
menaced by the memory of his name. Republics do the same thing, and for 
good measure they also wipe out all hereditary nobility as hostile to the 
republic. But they revere their own founders. “In republics there is greater 
life, greater hatred, more desire for revenge; the memory of their ancient 
liberty does not and cannot let them rest” (P 5). Therefore, to avoid the 


pitfalls clearly brought into view, The Prince implicitly advises princes to 
found republics to perpetuate their states and their glory. 

Just as The Prince is more republican than it first appears and than it is 
reputed to be according to the common opinion that the two books are 
opposed, so the Discourses is more princely or even tyrannical than it first 
appears and is reputed to be. 

First of all, we should note that the Discourses is not addressed to peoples. 
It is addressed “above all” (that is to say, not only) to Machiavelli’s friends 
Zanobi Buondelmonti and Cosimo Rucellai; and Machiavelli’s dedicatory 
letter to the Discourses contrasts this choice of addressee with “the common 
usage of those who write, who are accustomed [the first word of the 
dedicatory letter to The Prince ] always to address their works to some 
prince” and to flatter him. So as not to run into this error, Machiavelli 
chooses to address “not those who are princes but those who for their 
infinite good parts deserve to be.” Thus Machiavelli seems in the dedicatory 
letter to the Discourses to attack The Prince , or at least the dedicatory letter 
to The Prince addressed to Lorenzo de’ Medici, or at least the view that The 
Prince is simply dedicated or addressed to Lorenzo. Speaking to “those who 
know,” he seems in the mode of the classical political philosophers to prefer 
knowers to rulers and to regard those knowers as deserving to be rulers. But 
contrary to the classical mode, he addresses not merely knowers who 
deserve to be princes but knowers who may actually rise like Hiero to 
become princes and replace such incompetent rulers as Perseus or possibly 
Lorenzo. And Hiero, we should recall, is placed by Machiavelli in The 
Prince with the greatest examples of the founders Moses, Cyrus, Romulus, 
and Theseus (.P 6). 

One of the early discourses is entitled “That It Is Necessary to Be Alone 
If One Wishes to Order a Republic Anew or to Reform It Altogether outside 
Its Ancient Orders” (D 19). By “being alone” Machiavelli means that it is 
necessary for any ordering to depend on a single mind. In consequence he 
excuses the extraordinary actions of a founder or reformer, such as 
Romulus’s murder of his brother, as necessary to achieve sole authority. 
Thus Machiavelli insists that precisely so as to order a republic, it is 
necessary to have recourse to violent, one-man rule; too bad if others call it 
tyranny. He indeed warns that such a founder should take care not to leave 
his sole authority as an inheritance to another, to whom it might be a bad 
example. His republic will last long only “if it remains in the care of many 
and its maintenance stays with many” (D I 9.2). Thus even and precisely 
one who is concerned with his own ambition should seek to perpetuate his 


state and his glory not through inheritance by single heirs who rule alone as 
he does but through a republic entrusted to the care of the many: one to 
order, many to maintain. Republics need to be founded by something like 
tyrants to be well ordered; tyrants need to found something like republics to 
maintain their states and names. 

The need of republics for something like tyranny is clarified later in book 
I when Machiavelli makes clear that his special interest is not in founding a 
new people but in liberating and keeping free a corrupt people. Such is the 
task relevant to his own historical situation, in which a new prince must 
remake, rather than make, everything anew. Part of the problem of 
perpetuating republics is that they have as partisan enemies those who 
benefit from tyranny but they do not have partisan friends (D I 16.3). The 
reasons are, first, that free republics give honors and rewards for merit, but 
those who receive what they deserve feel no obligation to those who reward 
them. And, second, the benefits of free life do not give rise to any sense of 
obligation: “For no one ever confesses that he has an obligation to one who 
does not offend him.” Neither those eager for rewards nor those desiring to 
be left alone will be partisan friends of a republic. 

The problem with republics, in short, is that they are just. People do not 
appreciate being treated justly because that is something they think they 
deserve. The solution—and there is a solution—is for republics to behave 
less justly, more tyrannically, so that the benefits they confer and the 
security they provide will be more appreciated and better defended. In 
particular, to maintain its freedom, a newly free people must “kill the sons 
of Brutus”—that is, engage in acts of violence that make examples out of 
the enemies of freedom. Ensuring that the violence sets an example is more 
important than doing it legally. Indeed, illegal violence is all the more 
impressive. Machiavelli informs us of the tyrannical character of this 
solution in the digression immediately following, in which he gives similar 
advice to “princes who have become tyrants of their fatherlands” ( D I 16.5). 

Machiavelli knows that readers like ourselves who believe in justice will 
find this advice difficult to accept. He sometimes prepares us to accept the 
ordinarily unacceptable means he recommends by saying that a desired goal 
is impossible, then that it is very difficult, and finally that this is the means 
to achieve it. So he says, “One should presuppose as a thing very true that a 
corrupt city that lives under a prince, can never be turned into a free one, 
even if that prince is eliminated along with all his line” (D I 17.1). Almost 
immediately he adds, “unless indeed the goodness of one individual, 
together with virtue, keeps it free,” only apparently to retract that offer by 


warning that such freedom will last only as long as the life of that individual. 
It would be impossible to have “one man of such long life as to have enough 
time to inure to good a city that has been inured to bad for a long time.” Yet 
Machiavelli again opens up a way to the cure of corruption arising from 
inequality. That is to create equality by using “the greatest extraordinary 
means, which few know how or wish to use.” 

Finally, in the next chapter, Machiavelli explains that it is very difficult to 
maintain a free state in corrupt cities and “almost impossible to give a rule 
for it” (D I 18.1). Even Rome eventually succumbed to corruption because 
once the Romans had subdued their enemies, the Roman people no longer 
had regard for virtue. To have maintained Rome free it would have been 
necessary to change not only its laws but its orders—that is, its fundamental 
institutions or constitution. Such fundamental reordering, Machiavelli says, 
is “almost impossible.” It must be done “little by little” by “someone 
prudent” before the problem is recognized by everyone, in which case he 
will never be able to persuade anyone else of what he understands. Or it 
must be done “at a stroke,” when the problem is easily recognized but 
difficult to correct. For to do this, Machiavelli argues, it is not enough to use 
ordinary or legal means, “since the ordinary modes are bad; but it is 
necessary to go to the extraordinary, such as violence and arms, and before 
everything else become prince of that city, able to dispose it in one’s own 
mode” (D I 18.4). This is difficult or impossible, and Machiavelli tells us 
why with wonderful clarity: 

Because the reordering of a city for a political way of life presupposes a good man, and becoming 
prince of a republic by violence presupposes a bad man, one will find that it very rarely happens 
that someone good wishes to become prince by bad ways, even though his end be good, and that 
someone wicked, having become prince, wishes to work well, and that it will ever occur to his 
mind to use well the authority that he has acquired badly. 

No one could put better the moral contradiction at the heart of 
Machiavelli’s marriage of tyranny and republicanism. Nonetheless, he 
concludes that to create or maintain a republic in a corrupt city, it is 
necessary to turn it more toward a kingly state than toward a popular one. 

The discussion in the Discourses of ordering and maintaining liberty in a 
corrupt city (D I 16-18) makes clear the dependence of republican ends on 
tyrannical means. It also reveals Machiavelli’s apparent indifference to 
whether these good ends achieved through bad means result from good men 
willing to use bad means or from bad men willing to seek good ends, as if 
there were no effectual difference between them. It indicates that the need 
for such means and for such men arises not only once at the founding or 


beginning but repeatedly for maintaining, reforming, or refounding. 
Machiavelli takes the point further when he argues that in Rome new causes 
cropped up every day for which it had to make new orders or new provisions 
to maintain freedom (Z) I 49.1; III 49.1). 

In a famous chapter, he says that if a republic is to be maintained, it must 
often be led back toward its beginnings (D III 1). Leading it back toward 
the beginnings, Machiavelli explains, means restoring esteem for virtue 
through some terrifying external danger, through the virtue of a citizen who 
carries out “excessive and notable” executions that remind men of 
punishment and renew fear in their spirits, or alternatively through “the 
simple virtue of one man” who acts outside the law. Nor is it only at the 
beginning that one man may need to be alone; recall that Machiavelli 
earlier declared that it is necessary to be alone if one wants either “to order 
a republic anew or to reform it altogether outside its ancient orders” (D 19 
T). For one citizen to be alone it is necessary first to eliminate the envy of 
those who might get in his way (D III 30). This can be done either through 
some “strong and difficult accident” that makes everyone run voluntarily to 
cooperate—that is, obey—or through the deaths of the envious. The one 
citizen may be so lucky as to have the envious die naturally, or he may have 
to think of a way of removing them. And Machiavelli adds that whoever 
reads the Bible judiciously will see that Moses took the latter option: he 
“was forced to kill infinite men who, moved by nothing other than envy, 
were opposed to his plans” (D III 30.1). The need for continual refounding 
involves republics in a continual dependence on princely or tyrannical men 
and princely or tyrannical means. 

Machiavelli’s mixture of republicanism and tyranny in the Discourses 
refutes the decent, republican opinion that the Discourses is a decent, 
republican book as opposed to the wicked, tyrannical Prince. On the 
contrary, Machiavelli’s critique of classical and biblical morality and 
religion appears in the Discourses as well as in The Prince , and it is meant to 
liberate not only the rulers of principalities but also republics or their 
leaders, whom Machiavelli frequently and disconcertingly refers to as 

Even Machiavelli’s endorsement of republics over principalities in the 
Discourses reveals the princely or tyrannical elements in his republicanism. 
While he declares that two virtuous princes in succession are sufficient to 
acquire the world, he adds that a republic should do more, since it has 
through election not only two but infinite virtuous princes who succeed one 
another (D I 20). The advantage of a republic is not that it takes government 


out of the hands of princes but precisely that election provides “infinite 
most virtuous princes.” And in the place where Machiavelli says that a 
republic has greater life and more lasting good fortune than a principality, 
he claims that this is because republics can accommodate themselves to the 
times by choosing which of those citizens they employ as princely leaders 
(.D II 9). Where he says that “a people is more prudent, more stable, and of 
better judgment than a prince,” he also refers to republics as “cities where 
peoples are princes” and ends up repeating the formula of one to order, 
many to maintain (D I 58.3). In the chapter in which he explains the 
affection of peoples for the free or republican way of life, he relies on the 
fact that “it is seen through experience that cities have never expanded 
either in dominion or in riches if they have not been in freedom” ( D II 2.1). 
And the argument there that the “common good is not observed if not in 
republics” depends on the view that the common good is the good of the 
many, which may “turn out to harm this or that private individual” and go 
“against the disposition of the few crushed by it.” The common good of 
republics is not the “common benefit to everyone” (D I pr.l) to which 
Machiavelli himself claims to be devoted. In the same discourse we learn 
that an important part of the reason why people love republics more than 
principalities is that all those who dwell in them can believe that their 
children can grow up to be princes through their virtue. 

In sum, just as The Prince is more republican than it seems, so the 
Discourses is more princely, and through its mixture of tyranny and 
republicanism it is also more critical of classical and biblical morality and 
thereby more original than it seems. 

Republicanism Ancient and Modern 

The tyranny in Machiavelli’s republicanism gives it an original character 
and new features that catch the eye of every reader. The change in character 
comes out in a comparison with the classical republicanism of the ancient 
philosophers, of whom we may choose Aristotle as a representative. 
Aristotle was the dominant figure—in either the foreground or the 
background—of the political science of Machiavelli’s time. His notions are 
behind the humanist republicanism of Machiavelli’s predecessors in the 
office of Florentine secretary, Coluccio Salutati and Leonardo Bruni, whose 
works set the republican norm for the Italian Renaissance. But the contrast 
will be more clear if we look at Aristotle himself. 


Aristotle’s republic is the politeia, a word that can also be translated 
“constitution” or “regime.” The regime is the rule of the whole city ( polis) 
by a part, and it can be by one, few, or many (though rule by one is hardly a 
fixed regime). Thus there are several regimes but typically two that are 
always in competition: those of the few and of the many. These parts rule or 
want to rule on the basis of claims they advance or professions they avow 
about contributions they make to the whole—for example, the outstanding 
competence of the few versus the freedom and collective judgment of the 
many. Aristotle as political scientist judges these claims and finds them only 
partially true, hence partisan. He sets up a discussion between the parties 
(especially in books III and IV of his Politics ), of which the intended or 
hoped for result is a mixed regime that combines the partisan virtues and 
persuades each party to recognize that it gains from the other. Although the 
argument refers to power and self-interest, it consists essentially in 
persuading political men to act their best. Hence Aristotle’s mixed regime is 
very unlikely or impossible; it exists so as to be realized only in part or by 
degrees and to serve as a model for the end and manner of reform or 
progress in politics. Since the truly nonpartisan mixed regime does not exist 
and cannot be brought into being, every actual regime remains partisan and 
retains a measure of tyranny. 

In Aristotle, the tyrannical element in a republic stands for its lapses from 
perfection, but in Machiavelli, tyranny is used precisely to the contrary—to 
make a republic perfect. Machiavelli praises the Roman republic for being 
among those republics that, although not perfectly ordered at the beginning, 
had a good enough beginning so that through the occurrence of accidents 
they might become “perfect” (D I 2.1). These eventually perfect republics— 
numerous enough that the Roman appears to be only one example—are 
contrasted with others, such as the Spartan, whose laws and orders are given 
all at once, “at a stroke,” by one alone. Machiavelli speaks freely of 
perfection not so much, perhaps, to make it seem common as to make it 
seem attainable. And in giving preference to Rome’s accidental perfection 
because it is more flexible than that of Sparta’s one-time classical legislator 
Lycurgus, he shows again that tyranny—the rule of uno solo —works well, or 
best, in the context of a republic. 

Machiavelli, like Aristotle, begins from the few and the many, but he 
treats them very differently. For him they are not two parties making 
characteristically contrasting claims to rule (oligarchy versus democracy) 
but “two diverse humors,” also called “desires,” that are not sufficiently 
rational to be called claims or opinions (D I 4-5). The great or the nobles 


have a “great desire to dominate,” and the people or the ignoble have “only 
desire not to be dominated” ( D I 5.2). In reinterpreting the popular claim to 
rule as the desire not to be dominated, Machiavelli prepares the way for 
democracy and even republicanism to become liberal. “Don’t tread on me!” 
is the theme of popular feeling that he underscores. From this description 
we see that for Machiavelli, contrary to Aristotle, only one side wants to 
rule. Each side sees only its own necessity—to rule or not to be ruled—and 
does not understand, respectively, those who do not care to rule or those 
whose natures insist on it. Those who want glory despise those who want 
security, and the latter fear and hate the former. 

Because of their fundamental difference of desire and inevitable mutual 
misunderstanding, conflict between the two humors cannot be mediated by 
words. The clash between them is “tumult,” a word Machiavelli uses 
repeatedly to underscore the irrational noisiness of politics (D I 4-6). The 
first of the new features of Machiavelli’s political science is his rejection of 
the traditional condemnation of the tumults between the nobles and the 
plebs in Rome (a tradition that included Livy, Machiavelli’s supposed 
mentor in things Roman). Those who condemn that disunion blame the 
very thing that was the first cause of keeping Rome free (D I 4.1). 
Machiavelli was the first political philosopher to endorse party conflict as 
useful and good, even if partisan tactics are often not respectable. In doing 
so he accepts both the “tyrannical” desire to dominate and the “republican” 
desire not to be dominated and shows how they can be made to cooperate. 

Machiavelli approves of the Roman law on “accusation,” another novelty 
of his political science (D I 7-8). That law permitted any citizen to accuse 
another of ambition and the accused to defend himself, with both 
accusation and defense to be made before the people. The advantage of 
such a law, or “order,” is in allowing the people to vent the ill humor it 
harbors toward the whole government or toward the class of nobles against 
one individual, whose punishment satisfies the people and excuses everyone 
else. Machiavelli does not worry about the possible injustice of the 
procedure, as did Aristotle in his qualified defense of ostracism, the 
democratic practice in his day of exiling outstanding, and possibly 
dangerous, individuals from the city. Machiavelli will cheerfully sacrifice 
one of the princely types in order to save the rest. He does not waste time 
deploring the personal abuse characteristic of popular government at its 
worst; he turns it to account. The business of republics is not so much 
positive legislation to benefit the people as the negative exchange of 
accusations that entertains the people. While making use of ambitious 


princes, republics must take care to appease the popular fear and dislike of 

A principal use of princely types by republics is as dictators in 
emergencies (D I 33.1). So Machiavelli approves of the Roman practice of 
giving power to one man to act in such situations without consultation and 
without appeal. His endorsement contrasts sharply with the discomfort of 
ancient writers, who regard it as an embarrassment to the Roman republic 
and who play it down (Livy), assimilate it to kingship (Cicero), denounce it 
as deceit of the Senate against the poor (Dionysius of Halicarnassus), or 
pass it over in silence (Polybius). 3 Machiavelli thus begins the willing 
acceptance of dictatorship that is shared by later modern philosophers such 
as Jean Bodin and Karl Marx, not to mention the republican Rousseau. He 
does not oppose the dictators to the democracies, as was done in 
democratic rhetoric during the Second World War, but regards them as 
compatible and mutually useful, provided that the dictatorship is limited in 
tenure (D I 34). The dictator answers to the defects in whatever is 
customary or “ordinary” in useful republican procedures; he serves as a 
reminder of both the danger and the necessity of “extraordinary modes.” 
When unforeseen accidents occur, republics need a regular way to act 
irregularly. The dictatorship allows the republic to benefit from “this kingly 
power” without having a king. Or is the dictator a tyrant? Machiavelli 
struggles to sustain the difference between dictator and tyrant, but it is not 
clear that he succeeds or even wants to succeed ( D I 34). 

The need for tyranny in republics brings Machiavelli to question the 
value and viability of constitutions. Constitutions give visible order to 
political arrangements so as to make clear what is done in public as distinct 
from private activities. For a prince who dominates his state, public and 
private are virtually the same; but for a republic, the distinction is crucial. If 
the people are to govern or at least control the government, they must be 
able to see, through formal and regular institutions, what the government is 
doing in their name. So, as Machiavelli indicates, founding a republic 
centers on its ordering (D I 2, 9). But he also stresses that political orders 
are not enough and do not last. Orders must be accompanied by “modes” of 
political activity that give effect to the orders, interpret them, manipulate 
them. The Discourses is full of examples to illustrate how institutions (as we 
may speak of Machiavelli’s “orders”) are actually made use of; one of the 
best is the story of Pacuvius’s manipulation of the people (D I 47.2). The 
book is far from a treatise on the constitutional structure of republics, since 
such a work would easily acquire a normative character and would come to 


resemble a study of an imaginary republic (P 15). Machiavelli promises to 
bring “new modes and orders” in the plural (D I pr.l), not a single new 
“constitution.” Although he occasionally uses the word costituzione, his use 
is not in a comprehensive sense; in the Discourses he does not use the word 
regime , which would call to mind politeia, the Greek word for “constitution” 
that was extensively defined by Aristotle. 

Here again Machiavelli is hostile to Aristotle’s republicanism, and he also 
seems to offer a challenge to liberal constitutionalism, to the regime of 
modern liberty as opposed to ancient virtue, with which we live today. In 
his complex presentation he says that the regular orders of a republic, which 
give rise to “ordinary modes” of behavior, need to be distinguished from 
“extraordinary modes” that go beyond ordinary bounds, lest the republic 
succumb to a tyrant. Yet at the same time, because of unforeseen accidents 
or the motion of human things ( D I 6.4), as we have seen, the orders need to 
be revived by extraordinary modes—above all, by sensational executions. 
What is ordinary is defined against the extraordinary and yet depends on it. 
And this is simply to restate the paradox, for Machiavelli, that a republic 
must be both opposed and receptive to tyranny. To preserve its liberty it 
must stand by its laws and its constitution; to survive, it must be willing to 
forego them. Thus the distinctions between ordinary and extraordinary, 
public and private, republic and tyranny, must be simultaneously defended 
and surrendered. 

The chief of the extraordinary modes is, as noted, the sensational 
execution. The law must be visibly, and therefore impressively, executed. 
An impressive execution is not necessarily a legal one. In fact, an execution 
draws more attention if it is illegal, and illegality also shows more spirit in 
the one who executes. For Machiavelli specifies that executions should be 
seen to be done by one individual, as opposed to Aristotle’s preference for a 
committee that would dissipate the responsibility. 4 Machiavelli’s emphasis 
on execution—in the double sense of “carrying out” and “punishing 
capitally”—could be said to make him the author of modern executive 
power. A strong executive is a vital feature of modern republics today, 
distinguishing them from ancient republics in which such a power would 
have been considered too monarchical. The toleration for so much one-man 
rule in regimes so proud to be democracies may owe something to 
Machiavelli’s argument in the Discourses , however far it may seem from us. 

Another new element in Machiavelli’s political science is his 
recommendation of fraud and conspiracy. His chapter on conspiracy (D III 
6), by far the longest in the Discourses and a veritable book within the book, 


is a definite four-star attraction. For the first time in the history of political 
philosophy, one finds a discussion not of the justice of conspiracy but of the 
ways and means. Instead of disputing whether it is just to conspire against a 
tyrant, Machiavelli shows how to conduct a conspiracy against either a 
republic or a tyranny; and, as if this were not enough, he shows governments 
how to conspire against peoples. Conspiracy, of course, requires fraud, and 
Machiavelli is not embarrassed to praise those who excel in fraud and to 
promote them as models for republics as well as princes (Z) II 13; III 41). 
The necessity of fraud, one can see, is contained in Machiavelli’s 
description of the two humors in all states, one desiring to dominate and the 
other not to be dominated. Since government is domination, those who do 
not desire it must necessarily be fooled into accepting it—which is fraud. 
Election is one principal method: while the people are choosing who is to 
govern them, they forget their desire not to be governed at all; for injuries 
one chooses for oneself hurt less than those imposed by someone else (D I 

The last item deserving notice in our survey of Machiavelli’s 
republicanism is the discussion of corruption that runs through the 
Discourses. He seems to praise traditional republican virtue by noting that 
when public spirit is absent, republics become corrupt and fall victim to 
tyrants. That conclusion would imply a connection between moral virtue 
and political success. It would suggest that republican peoples will be 
rewarded for their self-sacrifice by the survival and prosperity of their 
republics (D I 55) and that the most efficacious means to success is 
education in virtue. But in fact, when examined closely, Machiavelli’s 
discussion of corruption proves to be another novelty of his political 
science, and not in accord with the fond hope of moral people that morality 
brings success. 

A quick look at what Machiavelli has to say about Julius Caesar, the 
tyrant who put an end to the Roman republic, will make the point. It will 
also illustrate the turns of Machiavelli’s rhetoric and the necessity of finding 
his opinion by comparing all his statements rather than accepting just one 
or following only one tendency of his argument. We first encounter Caesar 
in a chapter that contrasts the founders of a republic or kingdom, who are 
praiseworthy, with the blameworthy founders of a tyranny (D I 10). In that 
contrast there is said to be a “choice between the two qualities of men”: the 
detestable Caesar, who desired to possess a corrupt city in order to spoil it, 
and Romulus, who founded or reordered it. Then Machiavelli establishes 
that the Rome of the early republic, even of the Tarquins, was not corrupt, 


although it was very corrupt under Caesar (D I 17.1). But in a discussion of 
ingratitude in a republic, he says that Caesar “took for himself by force what 
ingratitude denied him,” implying that Caesar’s services deserved to be 
rewarded by tyranny and that the Roman people in their corruption denied 
it to him (D I 29.3)! Caesar is pronounced to be the “first tyrant in Rome” 
(.D I 37.2), and in the chapter on conspiracies he is cited as one who 
conspired against his fatherland (D III 6.18-19). At last, however, in a 
chapter on how Rome made itself a slave by prolonging military commands, 
Caesar is presented as a beneficiary of a chain of necessary consequences (D 
III 24). As Rome expanded, its armies went further afield and its captains 
needed a longer tenure of command, which gave them the opportunity of 
gaining the army over to themselves. Such an opportunity is bound to be 
seized, sooner or later, by an ambitious prince. And we have already learned 
that the Roman republic had no choice but to expand, because the motion 
of human things requires that a state either expand or decline (D I 6.4). A 
Caesar waits in the future of every successful republic. 

Thus, corruption is not a moral failing but, in a people, the necessary 
consequence of republican virtue and, in a prince, the necessity of his 
nature. Machiavelli reiterates that one must judge in politics and morals 
“according to the times.” He inaugurates what is today called “situational 
ethics,” a mode of moral judgment more convenient than his high-minded 
speech of “corruption” first promises. If this quick study of Caesar is not the 
whole view of Machiavelli on corruption, it is at least a part often 
unremarked, and the reverse of what one expects from a republican 
partisan. It is surely not a whole view of Machiavelli’s Caesar, the man who 
both furthered Rome and brought it to an end. 

Machiavelli’s treatment of corruption is of a piece with the other 
disturbing novelties of his republicanism—the praise and promotion of 
tumult, imperialism, dictatorship, fear, fraud, and conspiracy. His talk of 
“corruption” is more an excuse for tyranny than an accusation against it, 
and it signifies rather a surrender to necessity than moral resistance to its 
apparent dictates. Machiavelli does not abandon moral language; he speaks 
confidently of both “virtue” and “corruption.” Characteristically, he does 
not depart from the common speech of political actors; he does not try to 
teach us new terms—such as “power,” “legitimacy,” and “decision 
making”—with a scientifically neutral, amoral content. To this extent he 
stays with the method of Aristotle and with the ancient philosophers of 
ancient virtue. But he interprets common speech in a new way and uses the 
good old words in disconcerting and thought-provoking ways of his own. He 


tries to show that to understand political situations correctly, one must not 
listen to the intent of the words people use but rather look at the necessities 
they face. The prince must adjust his words to his deeds, not the other way 
around. Most people do not or cannot accept that necessity—a failing that 
is their necessity. They will continue in their moralizing habits because they 
are too weak to face a world in which necessity decides. Machiavelli’s use 
of “corruption” reflects both the permanence of the moral attitude he 
rejects and his way of getting around it. 

Machiavellps Criticism of Christianity 

What moved Machiavelli to take the grave step of recommending the 
mutual accommodation of tyranny and republics, thus changing both 
republican morality and republican politics? The answer is in Machiavelli’s 
view of his own time: the moderns are weak, the ancients were strong. The 
moderns are so called by Machiavelli because they are formed by 
Christianity—just the opposite of our usage, for which modernity is a 
departure from, or at least a secular modification of, Christianity. But 
Machiavelli is not ready to praise modernity until it is ready to follow him. 
At the beginning of the Discourses he criticizes “the weakness into which 
the present religion has led the world” and the evil that “ambitious idleness” 
has done to Christian countries (D I pr.2). Somehow the Christian church 
and religion stand in the way of the recovery of ancient virtue and ancient 
republicanism, but it is unclear why their presence compels the 
comprehensive innovations we have noted in the Discourses, as opposed to a 
mere reassertion of the ancient ways in the manner of the humanists, a 
sincere Renaissance. What precisely are the evils of Christianity, and what 
is Machiavelli’s remedy? 

The amazingly bold criticisms of Christianity in three of the Discourses 
(.D I 12; II 2.2; III 1.4) surely count among the sites in this work not to be 
missed by the conscientious tourist. The criticisms do not seem to be made 
from a single point of view, however, and despite their boldness they are as 
difficult to interpret as the more hidden treasures of the Discourses. At first 
it appears that Machiavelli’s objection is only to the church, because it has 
kept Italy weak and disunited (D I 12). The church is not strong enough by 
itself to unify Italy, but it is too strong to let any other power do so (see also 
FH I 9). If one combines this passage with Machiavelli’s ferocious 
suggestion to kill the pope and “all the cardinals” (D I 27), he seems to be 
an anticlerical critic aiming at a kind of Protestant reform, or possibly even 


a partisan of original Christianity. His objection applies in Italy, not in 
France or Spain, where unified states have been attained despite the church. 

The picture changes when we encounter a direct attack on Christianity, 
not just on corruption in the church. “Our religion” is said to esteem less the 
honor of the world than does the religion of the Gentiles; it glorifies humble 
and contemplative men more than active ones, an attitude that has made the 
world “effeminate” and “disarmed” heaven (D II 2). Returning to the 
possibility of reform, Machiavelli concludes by saying that the present 
religion needs to be interpreted according to virtue, not idleness, but the 
preceding discussion has made clear that Machiavelli’s preferred kinds of 
worldly glory and virtue were incompatible with Christianity, however 

In the third passage on Christianity, Machiavelli considers it as a “sect,” a 
collectivity made by human beings that needs to be renewed periodically by 
being drawn back toward its beginning, as was done by Saint Francis and 
Saint Dominick (Z) III 1.4). Here original Christianity is apparently 
accepted by Machiavelli as the true Christianity but still found wanting 
because it becomes corrupt in time and needs renewal. Elsewhere 
Machiavelli, speaking explicitly of the “Christian sect,” gives it a variable 
life span of between 1666 and 3000 years and attributes to it a human 
rather than a heavenly origin; and he adopts the opinion of the philosophers, 
opposed by the Bible, that the world is eternal (D II 5.1). But to understand 
Christianity as a sect like any other sect is to deny its divinity, together with 
that of the other sects, so here Machiavelli comes out an atheist. If one 
looks also at his discourses on the religion of the Romans, Machiavelli 
shows an appreciation for the political utility, if not the truth, of the pagan 
religion. He allows that the orderers of religions are praised above founders 
of states (D I 9.1, 10.1, 11.2), and he says that after Romulus founded 
Rome, the heavens inspired Numa Pompilius to make it religious (Z) I 
12.1). Religion enabled the Senate to manipulate the people in carrying out 
its enterprises, a function implying that the nobles or princes who 
manipulate religion do not believe, unlike the people who are manipulated 
(D I 14). Nor does Machiavelli express a consistent opinion on the 
importance of religion. After praising Numa’s religion as “altogether 
necessary” for keeping Rome quiet and civilized (D I 11.1), he soon after 
drastically demotes both Numa and religion, saying that Numa himself was 
“quiet and religious” while lacking in virtue, dependent on that of his 
predecessor Romulus ( D I 19.1). 


However all this adds up, we should note that Machiavelli’s view of 
Christianity is not so negative as the boldness of his criticism suggests. After 
all, the supposedly strong ancients were spiritually overcome by the 
supposedly weak moderns. He certainly says, despite his apparent atheism, 
that Christianity shows “the truth and the true way” (D II 2.2). But 
Christianity might show the truth without being itself that truth. By 
imitating the life of Christ, Christian priests gain credit with the people 
and, says Machiavelli in memorable words, “give them to understand that it 
is evil to say evil of evil” (D III 1.4). So priests do evil and “do not fear the 
punishment that they do not see and do not believe.” But there seems to be 
admiration in this denunciation. Machiavelli, who does not blink at 
Romulus’s act of killing his brother in order to be alone, can hardly be 
objecting to the rule of priests as the rule of evil. Precisely if Machiavelli, 
like the priests, does not fear punishment in the afterlife, he must have been 
interested in the modes of manipulating those who do fear it, or who 
believe they do. It is no accident that the mode of renewing republics by the 
sensational execution (D III 1.3) bears a strange resemblance to the central 
mystery of the “Christian sect.” 

And this is perhaps not the only mode of political maneuver that 
Machiavelli learned from the priests and the church as exemplars of 
spiritual warfare. Machiavelli quotes the Bible only once in the Discourses 
(D I 26), and when he does, he makes a manifest blunder (see D III 48), 
attributing to David an action of God’s (thus also mistaking a very familiar 
passage from the New Testament for one from the Old). It was God, not 
David, “who filled the poor with good things and sent the rich away empty” 
(Luke 1:53), the action of a new prince who makes everything anew in his 
state. It is God, then, who in this instance serves as Machiavelli’s model of a 
new prince, or of what authors call a “tyrant” (D I 25), who may also be the 
founder of a tyrannical republic, or the bringer of the new modes and orders 
that make such republics possible. Just when Machiavelli by implication 
calls the Christian God a tyrant, he also indicates that he is paying his 
greatest compliment. His blasphemy discloses his appreciation, for it 
amounts to an appropriation of Christianity to the benefit of mankind. 

To answer the question of why Machiavelli felt it necessary to change 
ancient virtue, we return to the criticism of Christianity in which he blames 
it for creating “ambitious idleness” (D I pr.2) and for being interpreted 
according to leisure and not virtue (D II 2.2). Idleness, or leisure (as ozio 
can also be translated), is the contrary of virtue in Machiavelli’s view. For 
Aristotle, leisure ( schole ) was the very condition of the virtuous. 


Machiavelli directs his venomous criticism of idleness against not only the 
priests but also the gentlemen (D I 55.4), who were the bearers of worldly 
honor according to the ancients. Thus, it is not enough to recover the honor 
of this world against Christian humility if honor is still to be found in high- 
minded leisure. Leisure makes republics either effeminate or divided, or 
both (D I 6.4; II 20, 25.1); the idle or the leisurely are included among the 
enemies of the human race (D I 10.1). Machiavelli puts necessity over 
leisure as the concern of the legislator (D I 1.4-5). He wants men to seek 
that worldly honor—or, better to say, glory—that is consistent with vigorous 
devotion to answering one’s necessities. However much ancient virtue and 
Christian virtue are divided over worldly honor, they are together in their 
high-minded rejection of motives arising from necessity and, in general, of 
the acquisitive life. Both find the highest type—philosopher or saint—in one 
who puts the contemplative life over politics and who thus could not be 
described as a “new prince,” Machiavelli’s highest type. 

To conclude the point: in order to oppose Christian weakness, 
Machiavelli felt he had to transform ancient virtue. His studious 
concentration on necessity compelled him to turn his back on classical 
nobility because it was involved with, and perhaps inevitably gave way to, 
its apparent opposite, Christian humility. After human excellence has been 
elevated to divine perfection, honoring the best is easily translated into 
humbling oneself before the divine. From his rejection of nobility follow 
both the democratic and the manipulative policies Machiavelli recommends 
to republics. Since he opposes both nobles and noble scruples, he can 
indulge popular resentment against gentlemen, and he can do so with 
fraudulent strategems. 

Machiavelli the Philosopher? 

Machiavelli does not appear to be a philosopher, and there are some 
scholars bold enough to assure us that he was not. His books are devoted to 
“worldly things”—that is, human things—and they do not sustain 
philosophic themes, if “philosophic” is understood to mean supraworldly 
interests. Machiavelli speaks explicitly of philosophers only three times in 
the Discourses ( D I 56; II 5.1; III 12.1), and he mentions Plato and Aristotle 
only once each (D III 6.16, 26.2). Among philosophers he prefers the more 
political. He speaks much more often of “writers” and “historians,” and in 
the Discourses, next to Livy, he mentions Xenophon the most often. At the 
beginning of the Discourses he blames the weakness of the modern world 


not on bad philosophy but on “not having a true knowledge of histories” (D 
I pr.2). 

Nonetheless—to borrow Machiavelli’s frequent expression for turning 
back on his argument—philosophy lurks everywhere in his work behind the 
scenes in which politics plays out its lessons. Although Machiavelli may 
look like a disorderly essayist, he gained the attention of the greatest 
modern philosophers from Bacon on. They recognized that a philosopher 
cannot reflect on the highest themes without thinking about the conditions 
of his thought, which are, broadly speaking, political. So it is not 
unphilosophical for a philosopher to take note of the politics of his time and 
therewith the politics of any time, the nature of politics. Political 
philosophy is a necessary, not an accidental, interest of the philosopher. At 
times of grave emergency, his interest in politics might have to become a 
preoccupation. In such circumstances he might have to narrow his focus 
from the nonhuman to the human, particularly if the emergency consists in 
too much concern for the superhuman. Philosophy, in this picture of 
Machiavelli’s view, might then with reason cease to be the theme of the 
philosopher. For Machiavelli, the philosophy of his time—whether it was 
lingering medieval Aristotelianism or Renaissance Platonism—was on more 
or less friendly terms with Christianity, and it was so involved in 
compromise with a difficult partner that it could not keep the distance 
necessary for attack or for reform. 

Yet if philosophers are preoccupied with politics, they must also of 
course be concerned with what is beyond politics. This is all the more true 
with a thinker such as Machiavelli, who expects such great results from the 
“remedies” he proposes. In the same place at the beginning of the 
Discourses where he criticizes the lack of true knowledge of histories, he 
says that people judge it impossible to imitate the ancients, as if heaven, the 
sun, the elements, and men themselves had changed from what they were in 
antiquity (D I pr.2). But according to the Bible, human beings and their 
relation to heaven were changed by the coming of God into the world. The 
natural world is subject to supernatural supervision and intervention: such 
was the dominant opinion in Machiavelli’s time, which he had to confront. 
The authority of Christianity stood in the way of his political project of 
reviving ancient virtue. So, like every philosopher, but in his own way and 
with fierce determination, he found it necessary to reassert the integrity of 
nature against those who provide authoritative opinions reassuring to the 
people and convenient for their own domination. “It is good to reason about 


everything,” Machiavelli says inconspicuously in a dependent clause (D I 
18.1). But reasoning about everything is the mark of a philosopher. 

For Machiavelli, the assertion of nature required the defense of this 
world against the claims of the next world. His defense in turn required a 
rediscovery of nature, a reformulation of the classical view. Despite his 
concentration on politics, he was led after all into the themes of nature, 
fortune, and necessity for which he is famous. These are the nonpolitical 
considerations necessary to his politics because they concern the limits of 
what politics can attain. They also represent the humanly or politically 
relevant aspect of what is nonhuman in appearance or origin. Machiavelli is 
not so much interested in nature itself as in how “nature” appears to most 
people; similarly, he cares little for God but much for religion, the human 
view of God. The reason for his politicized treatment is not difficult to find. 
Machiavelli attempts to show that human beings can control what previous 
philosophers thought uncontrollable and what religion leaves in the hands of 

The question of the limits of politics comes up in the very first chapter, in 
which Machiavelli debates how much a legislator can choose and how much 
is determined by necessity. The answer proves to be that the legislator can 
expand his choice by choosing what he will sooner or later find to be 
necessary; he must anticipate necessity. Any other policy leaves him 
dependent on good fortune, which he cannot count on. Then Machiavelli 
turns to the cycle of regimes, a theme of classical but not of modern 
political science (D I 2.2-4). Here is another much-visited site in the 
Discourses. According to the classical cycle of regimes, they do not develop 
progressively (as is assumed in what we call “political development”) but 
rather revolve in a circle in which bad regimes succeed good, and good 
succeed bad. The cycle implies that politics cannot achieve any permanent 
or irreversible benefit; human nature, subject to corruption, will sooner or 
later corrupt even the best regime and bring it down. 

Machiavelli repeats the account of the cycle given by the Roman 
historian Polybius, although without mentioning his name and with 
significant differences. Above all, the changes in regimes that Polybius 
attributes to nature Machiavelli accords to chance. Machiavelli does not 
accept or reject the classical analysis, but at the end he brusquely remarks 
that a state undergoing these changes would fall victim to a stronger 
neighbor before it could have time to complete the cycle. The classical cycle 
unrealistically presupposes that a state runs its course of domestic change 
undisturbed by changes imposed from abroad. Machiavelli challenges the 


classical presupposition indirectly, for he goes on to praise expansionist 
Rome, the very kind of regime that could take advantage of other republics 
devoted to domestic justice and insufficiently prepared to expand. He leaves 
the cycle of regimes, never again to return, since its presupposition is not 
his. His appropriation of the classical notion proves to be temporary and 
provisional, apparently serving a tactical purpose: it enables him to discuss 
the beginning of Rome without admitting any role for divinity, whether 
pagan or Christian. Thus he can focus on human necessity as the original 
motive of politics, while putting aside human piety. When he does come to 
discuss religion (D I 9), it is as an aid to a regime already established on 
grounds of necessity. 

Machiavelli does discuss later the cycle of civilizations, different from 
that of regimes (D II 5). This is the motion by which not merely regimes in 
one province but entire civilizations—or, to use his term, “sects”—are 
initiated and destroyed by heavenly or human causes. In considering the 
causes that come from heaven—plague, famine, and flood—Machiavelli 
remarks that a flood survivor with knowledge of the preceding sect might be 
able to pervert it in his own mode and leave to posterity what he alone 
wished. Here is a dream of glory, for someone not in Machiavelli’s 
situation, which raises the possibility of human control to an unprecedented 
degree. It is one thing for a philosopher to contemplate changes of sect; it is 
another to go about changing one. Machiavelli presents the possibility 
without having recourse to Bacon’s modern idea of the conquest of nature; 
he remains tied to a simplified Aristotelian belief that nature is a living 
body purging itself in a way that humans—or one individual human—can 
take advantage of. 

Machiavelli’s portrayal of Fortune as a willing being with control over 
humans is consistent with this politicized Aristotelianism. Aristotle himself 
distinguishes nature from chance, the order and regularity of things from 
irregular, unforeseeable accidents. He notes that the realm of chance is 
identical to the realm of human choice, since what happens by chance could 
have been intended. 5 Machiavelli, always politicizing, looks at the matter 
from the standpoint of ordinary people who worry about what will happen 
to themselves. They postulate a providential God who will take care of 
them. But while adopting the human concern for providence, Machiavelli 
does not endorse the belief that God will take care of us, and he sets aside 
the goodness or perfection of God except insofar as it touches human 
necessity. The good people may believe that their goodness guarantees 
success, or at least protection; but “goodness is not enough” (D III 30.1). 


Instead of relying on providence, he postulates a deity called Fortune, who 
is said to watch over our actions and sometimes to intervene on our behalf, 
but also to have its own plans (D II 29). Or, rather than Fortune, it may be 
that there are intelligences in the air with compassion for human beings (D 
I 56). But in either case the lesson Machiavelli draws is that human beings 
should never abandon themselves, or yield to the superior power of the 
superhuman (Z) II 29.3). 

Although fortune can never be conquered, human beings can learn to go 
along with it, picking up experience and making its plans their own, thus 
finally reducing its influence over human affairs. Fortune personified is a 
half-way station between a truly pious conception of providence mysterious 
to human beings and a scientific or atheist view of fortune as mere chance. 
Machiavelli’s personification yields something to wishful thinking—to 
human weakness—but in such a way as to encourage human virtue and 
reject passive piety. It is doubtful that Machiavelli would have wanted to 
conquer fortune even if he could, because of his concern for virtue: virtue is 
overcoming risk and so depends on risk; and risk requires chance so that we 
do not know what is going to happen. Machiavelli has to hope that the 
anticipation of fortune that he counsels will never finally succeed in making 
human life predictable. 

Machiavelli initiates the modern campaign to conquer nature that Bacon 
was to proclaim and carry further. Nature and chance are made less distinct 
by Machiavelli than they were for Aristotle. In a comment on Pope Julius II 
parallel to one in The Prince, Machiavelli says that he succeeded in the 
adventures of his pontificate because his impetuosity was suited to stormy 
times, but in quiet times he would have failed because he could not adapt to 
them (D III 9.3; P 25). Why not? Because “we are unable to oppose that to 
which nature inclines us,” and because success in acting one way becomes a 
habit from which you cannot be dissuaded. But Machiavelli shows how to 
get around the two difficulties, which may indeed be reduced to one. Earlier 
he said that nature “forces you”; then he says that it merely inclines us; then 
he suggests that it may only be a stupid habit. In the only chapter of the 
Discourses whose title includes the word, “nature” is similarly equated with 
custom (D III 43). Machiavelli makes it clear that opposite qualities, such 
as the harshness of Manlius and the kindness of Valerius (D III 22), are 
useful in different times. Virtue in general is, and must be practiced, 
“according to the times,” and republics are superior to principalities 
because they are capable of calling upon diverse abilities to find the right 
man for the time (D III 9.2). 


Machiavelli’s stance toward nature is complicated. In the first place he 
insists on the fixity of nature in order to repel the Christian claim that 
nature is subordinate to God. Thus he can conclude that, in view of the 
sameness of things, nothing prevents the moderns from imitating the 
ancients. But when it develops that it is not enough to imitate the ancients 
—one must improve upon them—Machiavelli changes his tune, and the 
fixity of nature yields to the flexibility of human virtue and the need for 
human mastery. Politically, he knows that most princes have diverse natures 
or habits (it matters little which), and princes and peoples have different 
humors. These cannot be changed, but they can be manipulated so that a 
state does not depend on nature’s provision for its good fortune. 
Machiavelli’s republic, unlike Plato’s, is not a coincidence of wisdom and 
power, based on the good luck that rulers with the best natures will happen 
to gain power. One can see that Machiavelli, a prince above the princes he 
advises, has a certain freedom from nature’s limitations that they lack (P 
ded. let.). But he, too, has a “natural desire” to work for the benefit of 
everyone (D I pr.l). 

Machiavellfs Perpetual Republic 

Although Machiavelli discourages the image or dream of perfection in our 
lives, he does speak, as we have seen, of a perfect republic. He prefers 
Rome, the republic that eventually became perfect by innovating through 
“accidents,” to Sparta, which was perfectly ordered all at once at its 
beginning but proved unable, despite this seeming advantage, to answer the 
necessities imposed from without in foreign affairs (Z) 1 2.6-7, 6.4). By 
looking to its actual working, Machiavelli rejects a classical model of 
perfection in favor of his own idea of accidental perfection not planned 
from the beginning. Accidental perfection has to be shown not in a 
philosopher’s model but in an actual example, and Machiavelli’s example is 
Rome. Clearly his Rome is neither the historical Rome nor Livy’s Rome. 
For all his deference to Livy, he announces his definite disagreement on an 
important point and substitutes his own authority (D I 58.1). In a sense, 
Machiavelli’s Rome is planned from the beginning, but it depends on being 
unpredictably completed by others, by the princes he is instructing (D I 
pr.l). His constant use of examples does not signify an unphilosophical 
inability to formulate universal propositions or to think systematically. He 
refuses to cater to the human weakness that craves universal rules and the 
assurance that success results from conforming to them. In fact, he provides 


many universals but qualifies or contradicts them, partly with other 
universal and especially with examples. His universals must always be read 
and revised in light of his examples. He too has a system, but the system 
includes his examples. To make philosophy pay more regard to things as 
they are, he wants to teach it to speak through examples, just as political 
rulers govern through examples and not only through laws (D III 1.3). 

Machiavelli’s seeming lack of system derives from his political intent and 
can be seen as deliberate. More hostile to Christianity than the humanists, 
he sought to replace its authority either with a new interpretation 
“according to virtue” (D II 2.2) or with a new sect based on reason and 
necessity. To this end he presents Rome in the Discourses as an alternative 
exemplar of human virtue to the “Rome” of the Christian church. His Rome 
comes to us from the books of Titus Livy, an authority comparable, as it 
were, to the authoritative book of the church, the Bible. If one looks 
carefully, Machiavelli’s attitude to Livy can be seen to move from reverence 
to acceptance to departure to disagreement to rejection—in sum, his 
attitude is in fact an appropriation to his purpose. For the Discourses is not 
really a commentary but an original work, as indeed it is commonly treated. 
Yet its originality is both trumpeted to the world (its “new modes and 
orders”) and concealed behind the example—that is, the authority—of 
Rome. Machiavelli’s appropriation of Livy’s Rome may also suggest to us 
his appropriation of Christian Rome, insofar as the two Romes are parallel 
as well as opposed. As we have noted, Machiavelli is not simply hostile to 
Christianity; on the contrary, he has great respect for its political acumen, 
for the ability of the church to rule the world without seeming to. Perhaps 
he has in mind the appropriation of Christian techniques of rule to the 
pagan end of worldly honor. 

Yet Machiavelli promises a perfect republic far beyond the ambition of 
pagans and the sober reflections of the ancient philosophers. He dangles 
before us the dazzling idea of a “perpetual republic,” once denying its 
possibility, once affirming it (D III 17, 22.3). A perpetual republic would 
have a remedy for every danger and would represent a perfect conquest of 
the fortune that sooner or later brings down every human institution except 
one: the church. Machiavelli claims for his revised Rome the success for 
which the church has to depend on God’s providence. No doubt any 
particular republic, such as Florence or Italy, will come to grief; in this 
sense a perpetual republic is impossible. But the whole civilization or sect— 
the republic in the sense of the “Christian republic” comprising all Christian 
states, now transformed into Machiavellian principalities and republics— 


will survive the ups and downs in particular provinces. To effect this 
irreversible change may be Machiavelli’s amazing ambition. 

Composition and Structure of the Discourses 

Nothing is known directly from Machiavelli about the composition of the 
Discourses, so those who want to know about it have been reduced to 
making inferences. We know that he was expelled from his office as 
Florentine secretary in 1512 by the Medici and that in his famous letter of 
13 December 1513 he remarks with becoming but unbelievable modesty 
that he has completed a “little work,” a “whimsy,” on principalities. And in 
The Prince we find a reference to a lengthier “reasoning on republics” that 
must be the Discourses (P 2). But the Discourses cannot have been finished 
by 1513 because we find in it reference to events that occurred as late as 
1517. One of the two young friends to whom Machiavelli dedicated the 
work, Cosimo Rucellai, was apparently dead by 1519. 

We are left, then, with the period 1513-17, or perhaps 1513-19, as the 
time of composition, though of course he might have begun the work while 
in office, and the scholars who have studied this matter have been unable to 
establish anything more precise. The Discourses was not published until 
1531, four years after Machiavelli’s death on 21 June 1527. As far as we 
know, he could have changed anything in the manuscript until his death; 
and if he did not, it was perhaps by choice. Any attempt to connect the time 
of writing with the content of his thought is complicated by the fact that he 
seems to have had the opportunity, not open to those who publish in their 
lifetimes, to leave his thought as he wanted it up to his last gasp. And in 
what respects did Machiavelli’s thought change or develop? We have 
already dealt with the question of the consistency of the Discourses and The 
Prince, and despite first appearances, we did not find any notable 
discrepancy. As one discovers references to The Prince in the Discourses (D 
II 1.3; III 42), making their recognition mutual, it seems safest to regard 
them as a pair of works, not much different—if at all—in time of 
composition, each said by Machiavelli to contain everything he knows, and 
offered separately by intent and not by the accident of an author’s 

Coming to the structure of the Discourses, we have much less aid from 
the Machiavelli scholars who have shown so much interest in the time of 
the composition. We do have more aid from Machiavelli himself, who tells 
us the plan of the work. But his statements seem both inaccurate and 


inadequate. To begin with his full title, Discourses on the First Decade of 
Titus Livy , one discovers that Machiavelli does not confine himself to Livy’s 
first ten books but comments on many more. In addition to the dedicatory 
letter there are two prefaces: one to the first book, another to the second, 
but none to the third. The two prefaces differ markedly. In the first 
Machiavelli urges his contemporaries to imitate the ancients, as the 
Renaissance calls for, but in all things and therefore in politics, as the 
Renaissance has neglected to do. In the second preface, however, he says 
that men often praise ancient times unreasonably. Readers are expected to 
have made progress in their thinking from imitating to improving on the 
ancients. The need to make progress derives from the resistance that 
readers, like human beings in general, feel toward one who finds “new 
modes and orders” or who makes himself the head in advising some new 
enterprise (D I pr.l; III 35.1). Machiavelli’s two prefaces, which actually 
address the reason for prefaces, alert us to the movement of the Discourses, 
to the stages of argument and the presence of rhetoric. Rather than speaking 
abstractly, Machiavelli is trying to persuade an audience (which may, of 
course, have diverse parts more and less attracted to what is said). 

At the end of the first chapter Machiavelli describes his plan in the 
Discourses. He distinguishes things done by Rome through either public or 
private counsel and either inside or outside the city, and he begins the first 
book with things occurring inside by public counsel. This is our preparation 
for the chapters on the regime contrasting Rome and Sparta, as we have 
noted. With the ninth chapter on founding, Machiavelli begins a series of 
groups of chapters devoted alternately to the two “humors” among human 
beings, princes and peoples. The nature of princes can be seen in how they 
govern, but the nature of peoples has to be seen in how they are governed, 
since peoples are incapable of governing without a head (D I 44). Princes 
and peoples both have a universal character irrespective of, and more 
important than, particular regimes. But Rome in particular excelled above 
all other republics because it allowed discord between princes and peoples 
and thus encouraged each party to reveal its character without attempting a 
false harmony. In considering princes, Machiavelli discusses founding and 
“being alone” (D I 9-10), corruption and how to overcome it (D I 16-18), 
the new prince ( D I 25-27), and dictatorship and extraordinary remedies (D 
I 33-45). To explain peoples, he considers the use of religion (D I 11-15), 
overcoming weakness (D I 19-24), gratitude shown to princes ( D I 28-32), 
and the relationship between fear and glory (D I 46-59). 


Machiavelli tells us that the second book is about how Rome became an 
empire (D II pr.3)—in other words, foreign policy by public counsel, 
according to the earlier announcement. This includes a study of the military 
in Rome and a comparison of ancient and modern warfare. In book II 
Rome comes in for more criticism than before: at the start, Rome is said to 
have owed its empire to virtue rather than to fortune, but near the end of 
the book the judgment is reversed (D II I, 29.1-2). And in precisely the 
chapter in which republics are praised for their domestic policy—the 
“common good is not observed if not in republics”—the foreign policy of 
the Roman republic is said to have imposed servitude on neighboring 

From these discrepancies it appears that “public counsel” is not enough, 
and Machiavelli must turn to private counsel to coordinate domestic and 
foreign policy. So book III addresses individual actions in both of these 
areas instead of separating them on the model of the first two books. Book I 
showed that the public counsel of the Roman republic was in fact a hidden 
government making use of private motives (above all, the desire to be 
alone), and book II did the same for public counsel on “things outside” 
Rome. The stage is set for hidden government by a private individual—the 
founder-captain, or the captain who has the double glory of instructing his 
army before leading it (D III 13.3). Such a captain will have to be very 
capable in management by fraud (D II 13, 41) and skilled in conspiracy (D 
III 6). The problem he must face is how to overcome the classical cycle of 
good regimes and bad, by which virtue in the good leads eventually, but 
inevitably, to corruption in the bad. And he must contrive to extend his 
influence beyond his own time to successors who have been made 
complacent by his very virtue. It is a problem worthy of Machiavelli 


Suggested Readings 

Aron, Raymond. Machiavel et les tyrannies modemes. Paris: Fallois, 1993. 

Ascoli, A. R., and Victoria Kahn. Machiavelli and the Discourses of Literature. Ithaca: Cornell 
University Press, 1993. 

Baron, Hans. The Crisis of the Early Italian Renaissance. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966. 

-. “Machiavelli: The Republican Citizen and the Author of The Prince” English Historical Review 

76 (1961): 217-53. 

Berlin, Isaiah. “The Originality of Machiavelli.” In Against the Current, edited by Isaiah Berlin, 25- 
79. New York: Viking Press, 1980. 

Bock, Gisela, Quentin Skinner, and Maurizio Viroli. Machiavelli and Republicanism. Cambridge: 
Cambridge University Press, 1990. 

Buck, August. Machiavelli. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1985. 

Burckhardt, Jacob. The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy. New York: Penguin Books, 1990. 

Chabod, Federico. Machiavelli and the Renaissance. London: Bowes and Bowes, 1958. 

Chiappelli, Fredi. Studi sul linguaggio del Machiax>elli. Florence: Le Monnier, 1952. 

Colish, Marcia. “The Idea of Liberty in Machiavelli.” Journal of the History of Ideas 32 (1971): 323- 

DeGrazia, Sebastian. Machiavelli in Hell. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989. 

Donaldson, Peter S. Machiavelli and Mystery of State. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. 

Esposito, Roberto. La politico e la storia: Machiavelli e Vico Naples: Liguori, 1980. 

Fleisher, Martin, ed. Machiavelli and the Nature of Political Thought. New York: Atheneum, 1972. 

Garver, Eugene. Machiavelli and the History of Prudence. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 

Gilbert, Felix. History: Choice and Commitment Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1977. 

-. Machiavelli and Guicciardini: Politics and History in Sixteenth-Century Florence. Princeton: 

Princeton University Press, 1965. 

Guicciardini, Francesco. Considerazioni intorno at Discorsi del Machiax’elli. In Niccolo Machiavelli, 
Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio, edited by C. Vivanti, 519-84. Turin: Einaudi, 1983. 

Hale, J. R. Machiavelli and Renaissance Italy. London: English Universities Press, 1961. 

Hulliung, Mark. Citizen Machiavelli Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983. 

Kahn, Victoria. Machiax’ellian rhetoric: from the Counter-Reformation to Milton. Princeton: Princeton 
University Press, 1994. 

Larivaille, Paul. La pensee politique de Machiavel: les Discours sur la premiere decade de Tite-Live 
Nancy: Presses Universitaries de Nancy, 1982. 

Lefort, Claude. Le travail de l’oeuvre Machiavel. Paris: Gallimard, 1972. 

Machiavelli, Niccolo. Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio Edited by G. Inglese. Milan: Rizzoli, 

-. Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio Edited by C. Vivanti. Turin: Einaudi, 1983. 

-. The Discourses of Niccold Machiavelli. 2 vols. Edited by L. J. Walker. London: Routledge and 

Kegan Paul, 1950. 

-. Opere politiche. Edited by M. Puppo. Florence: Le Monnier, 1969. 

-. II principe e discorsi. Edited by S. Bertelli. Milan: Feltrinelli, 1960. 

-. Tutte le opere. Edited by M. Martelli. Florence: Sansoni, 1971. 

-. Tutte le opere storiche e letterrarie di Niccold Machiavelli Edited by Guido Mazzoni and Mario 

Casella. Florence: Barbera, 1929. 


Mansfield, Harvey C., Jr. Machiavelli’s New Modes and Orders: A Study of the Discourses on Livy. 
Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1979. 

-. Machiavelli’s Virtue. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. 

Newell, W. R. “How Original Is Machiavelli?” Political Theory 15 (1987): 612-34. 

O'Brien, Conor Cruise. “The Ferocious Wisdom of Machiavelli.” In The Suspecting Glance, edited by 
Conor Cruise O'Brien. London: Faber and Faber, 1972. 

Orwin, Clifford. “Machiavelli's Unchristian Charity.” American Political Science Review 72 (1978): 

Parel, Anthony. The Machiavellian Cosmos New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992. 

-. The Political Calculus Essays on Machiavelli’s Philosophy Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 


Pincin, Carlo. “Osservazioni sul modo di procedere di Machiavelli nei Discorsi.” In Renaissance 
Studies in Honor of Hans Baron, edited by Anthony Molho and John A. Tedeschi, 385-408. 
DeKalb, II.: Northern Illinois University Press, 1971. 

-. “Le prefazione la dedicatoria dei Discorsi di Machiavelli.” Giomale storico della letteratura 

italiana 143 (1966): 72-83. 

Pitkin, Hanna. Fortune Is a Woman Gender and Politics in the Thought of Niccold Machiavelli Berkeley 
and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984. 

Pocock, J. G. A. The Machiavellian Moment Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican 
Tradition Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975. 

Price, Russell. “The Theme of Gloria in Machiavelli.” Renaissance Quarterly 30 (1977): 588-631. 

Rebhorn, Wayne A. Foxes and Fions Machiavelli’s Confidence Men. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 

Ridolfi, Roberto. The Fife of Niccold Machiavelli Translated by Cecil Grayson. Chicago: University of 
Chicago Press, 1963. 

Sasso, Gennaro. Machiavelli e gli antichi e altri saggi. 3 vols. Milano: R. Ricciardi, 1987. 

- . Niccold Machiavelli. Storia del suopensiero politico. Bologna: II Mulino, 1980. 

Saxonhouse, Arlene. Women in the History of Political Thought, Ancient Greece to Machiavelli. New 
York: Praeger, 1985. 

Skinner, Quentin. The Foundations of Modem Political Thought. 2 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge 
University Press, 1978. 

-. Machiavelli. New York: Hill and Wang, 1981. 

Strauss, Leo. “Machiavelli and Classical Literature.” Review of National Fiteratures I (1970): 7-25. 

-. “Niccolo Machiavelli.” In History of Political Philosophy, edited by Leo Strauss and Joseph 

Cropsey, 296-317. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987. 

-. Thoughts on Machiavelli. Glencoe, Ill.: The Free Press, 1958. 

Sullivan, Vickie B. Machiavelli’s Three Romes: Religion, Human Fiberty, and Politics Reformed. De- 
Kalb, Ill.: Northern Illinois University Press, 1996. 

Tarcov, Nathan. “Quentin Skinner’s Method and Machiavelli’s Prince. ’’Ethics 92 (1982): 692-709. 

Whitfield, J. H. Discourses on Machiavelli. Cambridge: Heffer, 1969. 

-. Machiavelli. New York: Russell & Russell, 1966. 


A Note on the Translation 

Our purpose has been to translate Machiavelli’s text as literally and 
consistently as is compatible with readable English. By “readable” we mean 
what can readily be understood now, not necessarily the phrases and idioms 
we might use now. We believe that giving currency to Machiavelli requires 
us to convey as much as we can of his words, his terms, and his phrasing, 
because we wish to be sure that we are not putting our words in his mouth, 
thus putting our ideas in his head. 

We aspire to the ideal that, despite the difficulties, it is possible to 
understand Machiavelli’s thought as he understood it. Thus, perhaps naively, 
we consider our translation to be not an interpretation but the basis for a 
variety of responsible interpretations aiming at the ideal. We conceive the 
office of translator to be strictly confined by the duties of modesty, caution, 
and fidelity and not to require, or permit, the freedom of self-expression. 
We have added notes to explain allusions or difficulties in the text, not to 
advance any interpretation. In the notes we make Machiavelli’s sources 
available to readers, insofar as we have been able to identify them, and we 
note discrepancies between the original and Machiavelli’s quotation. We 
also provide brief descriptions of modern events referred to by Machiavelli 
for which he needed no textual source. 

Precise cross-references are provided to clarify Machiavelli’s own 
references to previous or later discussions in the Discourses or to his other 
works. We have not tried to compile lists of mutually relevant passages for 
this wonderfully involved or intricate book. These would amount to a 
subject index. To provide such a thing would give false security because 
passages that need to be compared with one another are many more than 
appear at first. We leave the task of putting things together to the 
discernment and interpretation of the reader. 

We do offer a glossary enabling the reader to trace Machiavelli’s use of 
important words and to see how we have translated them, and enabling us to 
vary the equivalents we use while still informing the reader of Machiavelli’s 
terms. To discover what Machiavelli means by “corruption” in the 
Discourses, for example, it is necessary to make a survey of his usage of the 
word, which the glossary facilitates. Machiavelli does not define his terms 
otherwise than by his usage. Only by experience, indeed, does one learn 


what his “terms” are. That fact gives special emphasis to the general duty 
imposed on translators to translate consistently, an obligation that cannot 
fully be met even when it is keenly felt because words in these two—or any 
two—languages do not have the same extent of meaning. For example, 
ordine does not always mean “order.” But since it is important to 
understand the meaning of “order” in the work of a writer who says he is 
bringing “new modes and orders,” we try to translate ordine as “order” as 
consistently as we can. (We had much less success translating modo 
consistently as “mode,” since Machiavelli frequently uses it in phrases that 
must be rendered “so that” rather than “in a mode that” to be readable 
English.) We try to induce the reader to move toward Machiavelli rather 
than pulling Machiavelli toward the reader. This is certainly our choice; if it 
is also an interpretation, so be it. The inevitable imperfection of translation 
reminds one of life, except that a remedy exists: learn Italian and do your 
own translation so as not to depend on the arms of others. 

Other difficulties of Machiavelli’s prose should be mentioned. His 
pronouns often do not have a clear referent, and we have tried, at some cost 
to clarity in English, not to resolve his ambiguity by repeating the noun and 
thus making a choice he left open. Where gender clarifies the reference in 
Italian more than an English pronoun would, we have occasionally repeated 
the noun in brackets. Machiavelli also switches easily from singular to plural 
or the reverse, sometimes within the same sentence (making it clear that 
collective entities, such as “people,” “nobility,” “plebs,” and “army” operate 
sometimes as wholes and sometimes as individuals); and occasionally he 
changes from the third person to the second, addressing the reader in the 
familiar as “you.” We have kept the change of person but not always the 
change of number when it is too confusing. Uno standing by itself, which 
occurs frequently, we translate as “one individual” so as to distinguish it 
from the many uses of “one” necessary in idiomatic English. Uno prudente 
or uno buono is “someone prudent” or “someone good.” Uno solo is “one 

In accord with the usage of his time Machiavelli says universitd and 
universale in cases in which we would expect “general,” since apparently not 
everyone is included; so we translate them as “generality” or “collectivity.” 
Universitd is derived from the medieval Latin universitas, which means both 
a legal body or corporation and (sometimes) the community on which such 
bodies depend. But Machiavelli’s usage lacks the legalism of medieval 
usage. Machiavelli does not use one word for “power,” such as potere in 
modern Italian; rather, he uses two words, potestd and potenza. In this he 


follows the Latin usage of Thomas Aquinas and Marsilius, as well as the 
Italian of Dante. In their writings, potesta and potestas appear to mean a 
power (sometimes legal) that may be exercised, as opposed to potenza and 
potentia for a power that must be exercised. We have used notes to identify 
the less frequent potesta in that case in which it cannot be distinguished 
through the glossary. 

Machiavelli calls the ancient Etruscans and Gauls “Tuscans” and 
“French,” and we have not altered this anachronism (for an explanation, see 
D III 43). We have followed Machiavelli’s use of “infinite” (for example, 
“infinite other examples”) rather than correct it to “countless.” But he uses 
“offend” with such a wide range of meanings that we have been compelled 
to use a variety of English terms (“attack,” “hurt,” “offend,” “take the 
offensive”). We have preserved every reference to Machiavelli’s writing 
(“the examples written above”), whether apparently casual or emphatically 
self-conscious. His use of cosa and cose cannot be captured by the English 
“thing/s,” so we have sometimes had recourse to “affair/s” or omitted the 
term altogether. Machiavelli’s busy families of words for bad, evil, and 
wicked and for advantage, convenience, usefulness, and utility defied any 
consistent translation; see the glossary. We have rendered servo as “servile” 
when it refers to a political community rather than an individual slave: 
“enslaved” would be too strong, “subordinate” too weak. The Italian 
disarmato means both “unarmed” and “disarmed,” as if everyone were 
naturally armed; we have been compelled to choose by the context. 
Machiavelli uses “matter” to mean both the subject matter he discusses and 
the people as that on which an ambitious man can “impress the form of his 
ambition” (D III 8.2); he also uses “subject” in this latter sense. We have not 
attempted to streamline or vary his striking duplications and repetitions (“to 
order orders” or “reputed for a reputation”). While we have altered the 
sentence structure and word order of the Italian to render it English, we 
have attempted to be faithful to its surprising shifts of direction and changes 
of tone. In short, we have tried to let his readers taste the charm of 
Machiavelli’s style: 

presenting the most serious matters in a boisterous allegrissimo, perhaps not without a malicious 

artistic sense of the contrast he risks—long, difficult, hard dangerous thoughts and the tempo of the 

gallop and the very best, most capricious humor. ^ 

For the Italian text we have followed the Casella edition, adopting 
variants where they seem appropriate and noting them where they affect the 
meaning. We have profited from the scholarship of Walker’s translation and 


of Italian editions by Bertelli, Puppo, Inglese, and Vivanti. Allan Gilbert’s 
translation has also been useful. We have numbered the paragraphs for ease 
of reference but make no claim they originate with Machiavelli. 


Translators’ Acknowledgments 

Parts of the manuscript were word processed by Terese Denov, Marian 
Felgenhauer, and Anne Gamboa. The notes (other than the references to 
Livy) were checked by Mark Holler and Elyssa Donner. The index of proper 
names was prepared by Mark Holler and ably brought to completion by Tim 
Cashion, who also assisted in many other ways. The glossary was well 
launched by Christopher Lynch and brought safely to port by Joseph 
Macfarland, who used it to suggest numerous improvements of the 
translation. They were assisted by Daniel Arenas-Vives, Adam Breindel, 
Todd Breyfogle, Robert Guay, Nathalie Hester, Samuel Lester, Paul 
Ludwig, Daniella Reinhard, and Michael Zeoli. Improvements of the 
translation were suggested by Fernando Calvo, Tim Cashion, Markus 
Fischer, Steven J. Lenzner, Paul Ludwig, Christopher Lynch, Vickie 
Sullivan, Marianne Tarcov, and Susan Tarcov, who was consulted constantly 
on editorial questions. Olivia Tarcov transcribed corrections. Jonathan 
Marks proofread and transcribed corrections at various stages. Evan 
Charney checked the Latin translations. Mary Laur did a conscientious and 
highly intelligent job of copyediting the manuscript under the contrary 
pressures to improve the English of the translators and reflect the Italian of 
a long-dead author. Ana Bugan, Timothy Cashion, Matthew Crawford, 
Angela Doll, Daniel Doneson, Michael Freeman, Paul Ludwig, Christopher 
Lynch, Joseph Macfarland, David McNeill, Jonathan Marks, Reeghan 
Raffels, Daniella Reinhard, Miriam Tai, and Ivy Turkington helped check 
the page proofs. The translators take full responsibility for the remaining 
errors and infelicities in all parts of the work. 

Judy Chernick and later Stephen Gregory, administrative coordinators of 
the University of Chicago’s John M. Olin Center, coordinated and 
facilitated this enterprise in countless (NM would say infinite) ways. The 
project was generously supported by the John M. Olin Foundation through 
its grants to the Olin Center. John Tryneski’s encouragement was 
indispensable. Allan Bloom was responsible for bringing the translators 
together, both in this project and originally. 


Niccolo Machiavelli to Zanobi Buondelmonti and 
Cosimo Rucellai, Greetings: 

I send you a present that, if it does not correspond to the obligations I have to 
you, is without doubt the greatest Niccold Machiavelli has been able to send 
you. For in it I have expressed as much as I know and have learned through a 
long practice and a continual reading in worldly things. And since neither you 
nor others can desire more of me, you cannot complain if I have not given you 
more. You can well regret the poverty of my talent, if these narrations of mine 
are poor; and the fallaciousness of my judgment, if in many parts I deceive 
myself while discoursing. That being so, I do not know which of us has to be 
less obligated to the other: whether I to you, who have forced me to write what 
I would never have written for myself; or you to me, if in writing I have not 
satisfied you. So take this in the mode 2 that all things from friends are taken, 
where one always considers the intention of the sender more than the qualities 
of the thing sent. And believe that in this my only satisfaction is that I think that 
even if I have deceived myself in many of its circumstances, in this one only I 
know that I have not made an error, in choosing you above all others to 
address these discourses to: whether because in doing this it appears to me I 
have shown some gratitude for benefits received, or because it appears to me I 
have gone outside the common usage of those who write, who are accustomed 
always to address their works to some prince and, blinded by ambition and 
avarice, praise him for all virtuous qualities when they should blame him for 
every part worthy of reproach. Hence, so as not to incur this error, I have 
chosen not those who are princes but those who for their infinite good parts 
deserve to be; not those who could load me with ranks, honors, and riches but 
those who, though unable, would wish to do so. For men wishing to judge 
rightly have to esteem those who are liberal, not those who can be; and likewise 
those who know, not those who can govern a kingdom without knowing. 
Writers praise Hiero the Syracusan 3 when he was a private individual more 
than Perseus the Macedonian 4 when he was king, for Hiero lacked nothing 
other than the principality to be a prince while the other had no part of a king 
other than the kingdom. Enjoy, therefore, the good or the ill that you yourselves 
have wished for; and if you persist in the error that these opinions of mine 


gratify you, I shall not fail to follow with the rest of the history, as I promised 
you in the beginning. Farewell. 


First Book 


[1] Although the envious nature of men has always made it no less 
dangerous to find new modes and orders than to seek unknown waters and 
lands, 1 because men are more ready to blame than to praise the actions of 
others, nonetheless, driven by that natural desire that has always been in me 
to work, without any respect, for those things I believe will bring common 
benefit to everyone, I have decided to take a path as yet untrodden by 
anyone, and if it brings me trouble and difficulty, it could also bring me 
reward through those who consider humanely the end of these labors of 
mine. If poor talent, little experience of present things, and weak 
knowledge of ancient things make this attempt of mine defective and not of 
much utility, it will at least show the path to someone who with more 
virtue, more discourse and judgment, will be able to fulfill this intention of 
mine, which, if it will not bring me praise, ought not to incur blame. 2 

[2] Considering thus how much honor is awarded to antiquity, and how 
many times—letting pass infinite other examples—a fragment of an ancient 
statue has been bought at a high price because someone wants to have it 
near oneself, to honor his house with it, and to be able to have it imitated by 
those who delight in that art, and how the latter then strive with all industry 
to represent it in all their works; and seeing, on the other hand, that the 
most virtuous works the histories show us, which have been done 3 by 
ancient kingdoms and republics, by kings, captains, citizens, legislators, 4 
and others who have labored for their fatherland, are rather admired than 
imitated—indeed they are so much shunned by everyone in every least thing 
that no sign of that ancient virtue remains with us—I can do no other than 
marvel and grieve. And so much the more when I see that in the differences 
that arise between citizens in civil affairs or in the sicknesses that men 
incur, they always have recourse to those judgments or those remedies that 
were judged or ordered by the ancients. For the civil laws are nothing other 
than verdicts given by ancient jurists, which, reduced to order, teach our 
present jurists to judge. Nor is medicine other than the experiments 
performed by ancient physicians, on which present physicians found their 
judgments. Nonetheless, in ordering republics, maintaining states, 
governing kingdoms, ordering the military and administering war, judging 
subjects, and increasing empire, neither prince nor republic 5 may be found 


that has recourse to the examples of the ancients. This arises, I believe, not 
so much from the weakness into which the present religion 6 has led the 
world, or from the evil that an ambitious idleness has done to many 
Christian provinces and cities, as from not having a true knowledge of 
histories, through not getting from reading them that sense nor tasting that 
flavor that they have in themselves. From this it arises that the infinite 
number who read them take pleasure in hearing of the variety of accidents 7 
contained in them without thinking of imitating them, judging that 
imitation is not only difficult but impossible—as if heaven, sun, elements, 
men had varied in motion, order, and power from what they were in 
antiquity. Wishing, therefore, to turn men from this error, I have judged it 
necessary to write on all those books of Titus Livy that have not been 
intercepted by the malignity of the times 8 whatever I shall judge necessary 
for their greater understanding, according to knowledge of ancient and 
modern things, so that those who read these statements of mine can more 
easily draw from them that utility for which one should seek knowledge of 
histories. Although this enterprise may be difficult, nonetheless, aided by 
those who have encouraged me to accept this burden, I believe I can carry it 
far enough so that a short road will remain for another to bring it to the 
destined place. 


What Have Been Universally the 
Beginnings of Any City Whatever, and 
What Was That of Rome 

[1] Those who read what the beginning was of the city of Rome and by 
what legislators 1 and how it was ordered will not marvel that so much virtue 
was maintained for many centuries in that city, and that afterward the 
empire that the republic attained arose there. Wishing first to discourse of 
its birth, I say that all cities are built either by men native to the place where 
they are built or by foreigners. The first case 2 occurs when it does not 
appear, to inhabitants dispersed in many small parts, that they live securely, 
since each part by itself, both because of the site and because of the small 
number, cannot resist the thrust of whoever assaults it; and when the enemy 
comes, they do not have time to unite for their defense. Or if they did, they 
would be required to leave many of their strongholds abandoned; and so 
they would come at once to be the prey of their enemies. So to flee these 
dangers, moved either by themselves or by someone among them of greater 
authority, they are restrained to inhabit together a place elected by them, 
more advantageous to live in and easier to defend. 

[2] Of these, among many others, were Athens and Venice. The first was 
built for like causes by the dispersed inhabitants under the authority of 
Theseus. 3 The other consisted of many peoples reduced to certain small 
islands at the tip of the Adriatic Sea, who began among themselves, without 
any other particular prince who might order them, to five under the laws 
that appeared to them most apt to maintain them, so as to flee the wars that 
arose every day in Italy because of the coming of new barbarians after the 
decline of the Roman Empire. 4 It turned out happily for them because of 
the long idleness that the site gave them, since the sea had no exit and the 
peoples who were afflicting Italy had no ships to be able to plague them: so 
any small beginning would have enabled them to come to the greatness they 


[3] The second case is that of a city built by foreign races, whether free men 
or those depending on others, who are sent out as colonies either by a 
republic or by a prince so as to relieve their lands of inhabitants or for the 
defense of a country newly acquired that they wish to maintain securely and 
without expense. Of such cities the Roman people built very many 
throughout its empire. Or truly they are built by a prince, not to inhabit but 
for his glory, like the city of Alexandria by Alexander. Because these cities 
do not have a free origin, it rarely occurs that they make great strides and 
can be numbered among the capitals 5 of kingdoms. The building of 
Florence was like these, because—whether built by soldiers of Sulla or 
perchance by inhabitants of the mountains of Fiesole, who, trusting in the 
long peace that was born in the world under Octavian, came down to 
inhabit the plain by the Arno—it was built under the Roman Empire. Nor, 
in its beginnings, could it make any gains other than those conceded to it by 
courtesy of the prince. 6 

[4] The builders of cities are free when peoples, either under a prince or by 
themselves, are constrained by disease, hunger, or war to abandon the 
ancestral country and to seek for themselves a new seat. Such peoples either 
inhabit the cities they find in the countries they acquire, as did Moses, or 
they build anew in them, as did Aeneas. In this case one can recognize the 
virtue of the builder and the fortune of what is built, which is more or less 
marvelous as the one who was the beginning of it was more or less virtuous. 
His virtue can be recognized in two modes: the first is in the choice of site, 
the other in the ordering of laws. Because men work either by necessity or 
by choice, and because there is greater virtue to be seen where choice has 
less authority, it should be considered whether it is better to choose sterile 
places for the building of cities so that men, constrained to be industrious 
and less seized by idleness, live more united, having less cause for discord, 
because of the poverty of the site, as happened in Ragusa 7 and in many 
other cities built in similar places. This choice would without doubt be 
wiser and more useful if men were content to live off their own and did not 
wish to seek to command others. Therefore, since men cannot secure 
themselves except with power, it is necessary to avoid this sterility in a 
country and to settle in the most fertile places, where, since [the city] can 
expand because of the abundance of the site, it can both defend itself from 
whoever might assault it and crush anyone who might oppose its greatness. 
As to the idleness that the site might bring, the laws should be ordered to 
constrain it by imposing such necessities as the site does not provide. Those 


should be imitated who have inhabited very agreeable and very fertile 
countries, apt to produce men who are idle and unfit for any virtuous 
exercise, and who have had the wisdom to prevent the harms that the 
agreeableness of the country would have caused through idleness by 
imposing a necessity to exercise on those who had to be soldiers, so that 
through such an order they became better soldiers there than in countries 
that have naturally been harsh and sterile. Among them was the kingdom of 
the Egyptians, in which the necessity ordered by the laws was able to do so 
much that most excellent men arose there, notwithstanding that the country 
is very agreeable. If their names had not been eliminated by antiquity, they 
would be seen to merit more praise than Alexander the Great and many 
others whose memory is still fresh. Whoever had considered the kingdom of 
the sultan, and the order of the Mamelukes and of their military before they 
were eliminated by Selim the Grand Turk, 8 would have seen many exercises 
concerning soldiers in it, and would in fact have recognized how much they 
feared the idleness to which the kindness of the country could lead them if 
they had not been prevented with very strong laws. 

[5] I say, thus, that it is a more prudent choice to settle in a fertile place, if 
that fertility is restrained within proper limits by laws. When Alexander the 
Great wished to build a city for his glory, Deinocrates the architect came 
and showed him that he could build it on top of Mount Athos, which place, 
besides being strong, could be adapted to give that city a human form, 
which would be a marvelous and rare thing, worthy of his greatness. When 
Alexander asked him what the inhabitants would live on, he replied he had 
not thought of that. At this the former laughed and, setting aside that 
mountain, built Alexandria, where the inhabitants would have to stay 
willingly because of the fatness of the country and the advantages of the sea 
and the Nile. 9 So if whoever examines the building of Rome takes Aeneas 
for its first progenitor, 10 it will be of those cities built by foreigners, while if 
he takes Romulus 11 it will be of those built by men native to the place; and 
in whichever mode, he will see that it had a free beginning, without 
depending on anyone. He will also see, as will be said below, how many 
necessities the laws made by Romulus, Numa, 12 and the others imposed, so 
that the fertility of the site, the advantages of the sea, the frequent victories, 
and the greatness of its empire could not corrupt it for many centuries, and 
that they maintained it full of as much virtue as has ever adorned any other 
city or republic. 


[6] Because the things worked by it, which are celebrated by Titus Livy, 
ensued either through public or through private counsel, and either inside or 
outside the city, I shall begin to discourse of things occurring inside and by 
public counsel that I shall judge worthy of greater notice, adding to them 
everything that might depend on them, to which discourses this first book, 
or in truth this first part, will be limited. 



Of How Many Species Are Republics, and 
Which Was the Roman Republic 

[1] I wish to put aside reasoning on cities that have had their beginning 
subject to another; and I shall speak of those that had a beginning far from 
all external servitude and were at once governed by their own will, either as 
a republic or as a principality. These have had diverse laws and orders, as 
they have had diverse beginnings. For some were given laws by one alone 
and at a stroke, either in their beginning or after not much time, like those 
that were given by Lycurgus to the Spartans; 1 some had them by chance and 
at many different times, and according to accidents, as had Rome. So that 
republic can be called happy whose lot is to get one man so prudent that he 
gives it laws ordered so that it can live securely under them without needing 
to correct them. One sees that Sparta observed them for more than eight 
hundred years without corrupting them or without any dangerous tumult. 2 
On the contrary, that city has some degree of unhappiness that, by not 
having fallen upon one prudent orderer, is forced of necessity to reorder 
itself. Of these still more unhappy is that which is the farthest from order, 
and that one is farthest from it that by its orders is altogether off the right 
road that might lead it to the perfect and true end. It is almost impossible 
for those in this degree to repair themselves by any accident whatever; the 
others that, if they do not have perfect order, have taken a beginning that is 
good and capable of becoming better, can by the occurrence of accidents 
become perfect. But it is indeed true that they will never order themselves 
without danger, because enough men never agree to a new law that looks to 
a new order in a city unless they are shown by a necessity that they need to 
do it. Since this necessity cannot come without danger, it is an easy thing 
for the republic to be ruined before it can be led to a perfection of order. 
This is vouched for fully by the republic of Florence, which was reordered 
by the accident in Arezzo in ’02 and disordered by the one in Prato in T2. 3 

[2] Wishing thus to discourse of what were the orders of the city of Rome 
and what accidents led it to its perfection, 4 I say that some who have 


written on republics say that in them is one of three states 5 —called by them 
principality, aristocrats, and popular—and that those who order a city 
should turn to one of these according as it appears to them more to the 
purpose. Some others, wiser according to the opinion of many, have the 
opinion that there are six types of government, of which three are the worst; 
that three others are good in themselves but so easily corrupted that they too 
come to be pernicious. 6 Those that are good are the three written above; 
those that are bad are three others that depend on these three; and each one 
of them is similar to the one next to it so that they easily leap from one to 
the other. For the principality easily becomes tyrannical; the aristocrats 
with ease become a state of the few; the popular is without difficulty 
converted into the licentious. So if an orderer of a republic orders one of 
those three states in a city, he orders it there for a short time; for no remedy 
can be applied there to prevent it from slipping into its contrary because of 
the likeness that the virtue and the vice have in this case. 

[3] These variations of governments arise by chance among men. For since 
the inhabitants were sparse in the beginning of the world, they lived 
dispersed for a time like beasts; then, as generations multiplied, they 
gathered together, and to be able to defend themselves better, they began to 
look to whoever among them was more robust and of greater heart, and they 
made him a head, as it were, and obeyed him. From this arose the 
knowledge of things honest and good, differing from the pernicious and bad. 
For, seeing that if one individual hurt his benefactor, hatred and 
compassion among men came from it, and as they blamed the ungrateful 
and honored those who were grateful, and thought too that those same 
injuries could be done to them, to escape like evil they were reduced to 
making laws and ordering punishments for whoever acted against them: 
hence came the knowledge of justice. That thing made them go after not 
the most hardy but the one who would be more prudent and more just when 
they next had to choose a prince. But then as the prince began to be made 
by succession, and not by choice, at once the heirs began to degenerate from 
their ancestors; and leaving aside virtuous works, they thought that princes 
have nothing else to do but surpass others in sumptuousness and 
lasciviousness and every other kind of license. So as the prince began to be 
hated and, because of such hatred, began to fear, and as he soon passed 
from fear to offenses, from it a tyranny quickly arose. From this arose next 
the beginnings of ruin and of plots and conspiracies 7 against princes, done 
not by those who were either timid or weak but by those who were in 


advance of others in generosity, greatness of spirit, 8 riches, and nobility; 
who were unable to endure the dishonest life of that prince. The multitude, 
thus following the authority of the powerful, armed itself against the prince 
and obeyed them as its liberators when he was eliminated. And holding in 
hatred the name of a sole head, they constituted a government of 
themselves; and in the beginning, with respect to the past tyranny, they 
governed themselves according to the laws ordered by them, placing the 
common utility before their own advantage; and they governed and 
preserved both private and public things with the highest diligence. This 
administration came next to their sons, who, not knowing the variation of 
fortune, never having encountered evil, and unwilling to rest content with 
civil equality, but turning to avarice, to ambition, to usurpation of women, 
made a government of aristocrats become a government of few, without 
respect for any civility. So in a short time the same thing happened to them 
as to the tyrant; for disgusted by their government, the multitude made for 
itself a minister of whoever might plan in any mode to offend those 
governors; and so someone quickly rose up who, with the aid of the 
multitude, eliminated them. Since the memory of the prince and of the 
injuries received from him was still fresh, and since they had unmade the 
state of the few and did not wish to remake that of the prince, they turned to 
the popular state. They ordered it so that neither the powerful few nor one 
prince might have any authority in it. Because all states have some 
reverence in the beginning, this popular state was maintained for a little 
while, but not much, especially once the generation that had ordered it was 
eliminated; for it came at once to license, where neither private men nor 
public were in fear, and each living in his own mode, a thousand injuries 
were done every day. So, constrained by necessity, or by the suggestion of 
some good man, or to escape such license, they returned anew to the 
principality; and from that, degree by degree, they came back toward 
license, in the modes and for the causes said. 

[4] It is while revolving in this cycle that all republics are governed and 
govern themselves. But rarely do they return to the same governments, for 
almost no republic can have so long a life as to be able to pass many times 
through these changes and remain on its feet. But indeed it happens that in 
its travails, a republic always lacking in counsel and forces becomes subject 
to a neighboring state that is ordered better than it; assuming that this were 
not so, however, a republic would be capable of revolving for an infinite 
time in these governments. 


[5] I say thus that all the said modes are pestiferous because of the brevity 
of life in the three good ones and because of the malignity in the three bad. 
So those who prudently order laws having recognized this defect, avoiding 
each of these modes by itself, chose one that shared in all, judging it firmer 
and more stable; for the one guards the other, since in one and the same city 
there are the principality, the aristocrats, and the popular government. 

[6] Among those who have deserved most praise for such constitutions is 
Lycurgus, who in Sparta ordered his laws so as to give their roles to the 
kings, the aristocrats, and the people and made a state that lasted more than 
eight hundred years, achieving the highest praise for himself and quiet in 

that city. 9 The contrary happened to Solon, who ordered the laws in Athens: 
by ordering only the popular state there, he made it of such short life that 
before he died he saw the tyranny of Pisistratus born there. 10 His heirs were 
expelled after forty years and Athens returned to freedom, yet because it 
took up the popular state again, according to the orders of Solon, it lasted 
no more than a hundred years. To maintain it, [Athens] made many 
constitutions that had not been considered by Solon, by which the insolence 
of the great and the license of the collectivity 11 were repressed. 
Nonetheless, because it did not mix them with the power of the principality 
and with that of the aristocrats, Athens lived a very short time in respect to 

[7] But let us come to Rome. Notwithstanding that it did not have a 
Lycurgus to order it in the beginning in a mode that would enable it to live 
free a long time, nonetheless so many accidents arose in it through the 
disunion between the plebs and the Senate that what an orderer had not 
done, chance did. For if the first fortune did not fall to Rome, the second 
fell to it; for if its first orders were defective, nonetheless they did not 
deviate from the right way that could lead them to perfection. For Romulus 
and all the other kings made many and good laws conforming also to a free 
way of life; but because their end was to found a kingdom and not a 
republic, when that city was left free, many things that were necessary to 
order in favor of freedom were lacking, not having been ordered by those 
kings. Even though its kings lost their empire by the causes and modes 
discoursed of, nonetheless those who expelled them expelled from Rome 
the name and not the kingly power, having at once ordered two consuls 
there who stood in the place of the kings; so, since there were the consuls 
and the Senate in that republic, it came to be mixed only of two qualities 
out of the three written of above—that is, the principality and the 


aristocrats. It remained only to give a place to the popular government; 
hence, when the Roman nobility became insolent for the causes that will be 
told below, the people rose up against it; so as not to lose the whole, it was 
constrained to yield to the people its part, and on the other side the Senate 
and the consuls remained with so much authority that they could keep their 
rank in that republic. Thus arose the creation of the tribunes of the plebs, 
after which the state of that republic came to be more stabilized, since all 
three kinds of government there had their part. Fortune was so favorable to 
it that although it passed from the government of kings and of aristocrats to 
that of the people, by the same degrees and for the same causes that have 
been discoursed of above, nonetheless it never took away all authority from 
kingly qualities so as to give authority to the aristocrats, nor did it diminish 
the authority of the aristocrats altogether so as to give it to the people. But, 
remaining mixed, it made a perfect republic, to which perfection it came 
through the disunion of the plebs and the Senate, as will be demonstrated at 
length in the next two chapters. 



#?3 a 

What Accidents Made the Tribunes of the 
Plebs Be Created in Rome, Which Made 
the Republic More Perfect 

[1] As all those demonstrate who reason on a civil way of life, and as every 
history is full of examples, it is necessary to whoever disposes a republic and 
orders laws in it to presuppose that all men are bad, and that they always 
have to use the malignity of their spirit whenever they have a free 
opportunity for it. When any malignity remains hidden for a time, this 
proceeds from a hidden cause, which is not recognized because no contrary 
experience has been seen. But time, which they say is the father of every 
truth, exposes it later. 

[2] It appeared that in Rome there was a very great union between the plebs 
and the Senate after the Tarquins were expelled, 1 and that the nobles had 
put away that pride of theirs, had taken on a popular spirit, and were 
tolerable to anyone, however mean. 2 This deception remained concealed, 
nor did one see the cause of it while the Tarquins lived. Fearing them, and 
having fear that if the plebs were treated badly it would not take their side, 
the nobility behaved humanely toward them; but as soon as the Tarquins 
were dead and fear fled from the nobles, they began to spit out that poison 
against the plebs that they had held in their breasts, and they offended it in 
all the modes they could. 3 Such a thing is testimony to what I said above, 
that men never work any good unless through necessity, but where choice 
abounds and one can make use of license, at once everything is full of 
confusion and disorder. Therefore it is said that hunger and poverty make 
men industrious, and the laws make them good. Where a thing works well 
on its own without the law, the law is not necessary; but when some good 
custom is lacking, at once the law is necessary. Therefore when the 
Tarquins, who had kept the nobility in check with fear of themselves, were 
missing, it was fitting to think of a new order that would have the same 
effect as the Tarquins had had when they were alive. Therefore, after many 


confusions, noises, and dangers of scandals that arose between the plebs and 
the nobility, they arrived at the creation of the tribunes for the security of 
the plebs. 4 They ordered them with so much eminence and reputation that 
they could ever after be intermediaries between the plebs and the Senate 
and prevent the insolence of the nobles. 


#?4 n 

That the Disunion of the Plebs and the 
Roman Senate Made That Republic Free 

and Powerful 

[1] I do not wish to fail to discourse of the tumults in Rome from the death 
of the Tarquins to the creation of the tribunes, 1 and then upon some things 
contrary to the opinion of many who say that Rome was a tumultuous 
republic and full of such confusion that if good fortune and military virtue 
had not made up for its defects, it would have been inferior to every other 
republic. 2 I cannot deny that fortune and the military were causes of the 
Roman Empire; but it quite appears to me they are not aware that where 
the military is good, there must be good order; and too, it rarely occurs that 
good fortune will not be there. But let us come to other details of that city. I 
say that to me it appears that those who damn the tumults between the 
nobles and the plebs blame those things that were the first cause of keeping 
Rome free, and that they consider the noises and the cries that would arise 
in such tumults more than the good effects that they engendered. They do 
not consider that in every republic are two diverse humors, 3 that of the 
people and that of the great, and that all the laws that are made in favor of 
freedom arise from their disunion, as can easily be seen to have occurred in 
Rome. For from the Tarquins to the Gracchi, which was more than three 
hundred years, the tumults of Rome rarely engendered exile and very rarely 
blood. Neither can these tumults, therefore, be judged harmful nor a 
republic divided that in so much time sent no more than eight or ten 
citizens into exile because of its differences, and killed very few of them, 
and condemned not many more to fines of money. Nor can one in any 
mode, with reason, call a republic disordered where there are so many 
examples of virtue; for good examples arise from good education, good 
education from good laws, and good laws from those tumults that many 
inconsiderately damn. For whoever examines their end well will find that 
they have engendered not any exile or violence unfavorable to the common 


good but laws and orders in benefit of public freedom. If anyone said the 
modes were extraordinary and almost wild, to see the people together 
crying out against the Senate, the Senate against the people, running 
tumultuously through the streets, closing shops, the whole plebs leaving 
Rome—all of which things frighten whoever does no other than read of 
them—I say that every city ought to have its modes with which the people 
can vent its ambition, and especially those cities that wish to avail 
themselves of the people in important things. Among these the city of 
Rome had this mode: that when the people wished to obtain a law, either 
they did one of the things said above or they refused to enroll their names to 
go to war, so that to placate them there was need to satisfy them in some 
part. The desires of free peoples are rarely pernicious to freedom because 
they arise either from being oppressed or from suspicion that they may be 
oppressed. If these opinions are false, there is for them the remedy of 
assemblies, where some good man 4 gets up who in orating demonstrates to 
them how they deceive themselves; and though peoples, as Tully says, are 
ignorant, they are capable of truth and easily yield when the truth is told 
them by a man worthy of faith. 5 

[2] Thus one should blame the Roman government more sparingly and 
consider that so many good effects would not have emerged from that 
republic if not caused by the best causes. And if the tumults were the cause 
of the creation of the tribunes, they deserve highest praise; for besides 
giving popular administration its part, they were constituted as a guard of 
Roman freedom, as will be shown in the following chapter. 


«5 M 

Where the Guard of Freedom May Be 
Settled More Securely, in the People or in 
the Great; and Which Has Greater Cause 
for Tumult, He Who Wishes to Acquire or 
He Who Wishes to Maintain 

[1] For those who have prudently constituted a republic, among the most 
necessary things ordered by them has been to constitute a guard for 
freedom, and according as this is well placed, that free way of life lasts 
more or less. Because in every republic there are great and popular men, it 
has been doubted in which hands it is better to place the said guard. With 
the Lacedemonians, and in our times with the Venetians, it has been put in 
the hands of the nobles; but with the Romans it was put in the hands of the 

[2] Therefore it is necessary to examine which of these republics made the 
better choice. If one goes back to the reasons, there is something to say on 
every side; but if one examines their end, one takes the side of the nobles 
because the freedom of Sparta and Venice had a longer life than that of 
Rome. Coming to reasons, taking first the side of the Romans, I say that one 
should put on guard over a thing those who have less appetite for usurping 
it. Without doubt, if one considers the end of the nobles and of the ignobles, 
one will see great desire to dominate in the former, and in the latter only 
desire not to be dominated; and, in consequence, a greater will to live free, 
being less able to hope to usurp it than are the great. So when those who are 
popular are posted as the guard of freedom, it is reasonable that they have 
more care for it, and since they are not able to seize it, they do not permit 
others to seize it. On the other side, he who defends the Spartan and 
Venetian order says that those who put the guard in the hands of the 
powerful do two good works: one is that they satisfy their ambition more, 
and, having more part in the republic through having this stick in hand, they 


have cause to be more content; the other is that they take away a quality of 
authority from the restless spirits of the plebs that is the cause of infinite 
dissensions and scandals in a republic and is apt to reduce the nobility to a 
certain desperation that with time produces bad effects. They give as an 
example of this the same Rome, where because the tribunes of the plebs 
had this authority in their hands it was not enough for them to have one 
plebeian consul, but they wished to have both. From this, they wished for 
the censorship, the praetor, and all the other ranks of command of the city; 
nor was this enough for them, since, taken by the same fury, they later began 
to adore those men who they saw were apt to beat down the nobility, from 
which came the power of Marius and the ruin of Rome. 1 And truly, he who 
discourses well on the one thing and the other could remain doubtful as to 
which should be chosen by him as guard of such freedom, not knowing 
which humor of men is more hurtful in a republic, that which desires to 
maintain honor already acquired or that which desires to acquire what it 
does not have. 

[3] In the end, he who subtly examines the whole will draw this conclusion 
from it: you are reasoning either about a republic that wishes to make an 
empire, such as Rome, or about one for whom it is enough to maintain 
itself. In the first case, it is necessary for it to do everything as did Rome; in 
the second, it can imitate Venice and Sparta, for the causes that will be told 
in the following chapter. 

[4] But, so as to return to discoursing on which men in a republic are more 
hurtful, those who desire to acquire or those who fear to lose what they have 
acquired, I say that when Marcus Menenius was created dictator and 
Marcus Fulvius master of the horse, both of them plebeians, so as to look 
into certain conspiracies that had been made in Capua against Rome, 
authority was also given to them by the people to be able to look into 
whoever in Rome, through ambition and extraordinary modes, might be 
contriving to come to the consulate and to the other honors of the city. As it 
appeared to the nobility that such authority was given to the dictator against 
them, they spread it through Rome that the nobles were not the ones 
seeking honors through ambition and extraordinary modes but rather that 
the ignobles, who, not trusting in their blood and virtue, were seeking by 
extraordinary paths to come to those ranks; and they accused the dictator 
particularly. So powerful was the accusation that after holding an assembly 
and complaining of the calumnies put on him by the nobles, Menenius laid 
down the dictatorship and submitted himself to the judgment that might be 


made of him by the people; and then, after his case had been aired, he was 
absolved. 2 There it was much disputed which is the more ambitious, he 
who wishes to maintain or he who wishes to acquire; for either one appetite 
or the other can be the cause of very great tumults. Yet nonetheless they are 
most often caused by him who possesses, because the fear of losing 
generates in him the same wishes that are in those who desire to acquire; 
for it does not appear to men that they possess securely what a man has 
unless he acquires something else new. There is this besides: that since they 
possess much, they are able to make an alteration with greater power and 
greater motion. And there is still this besides: that their incorrect and 
ambitious behavior inflames in the breasts of whoever does not possess the 
wish to possess so as to avenge themselves against them by despoiling them 
or to be able also themselves to enter into those riches and those honors that 
they see being used badly by others. 


Whether a State Could Have Been Ordered 
in Rome That Would Have Taken Away the 
Enmities between the People and the 


[1] We have discoursed above on the effects produced by the controversies 
between the people and the Senate. Now since they continued until the time 
of the Gracchi, 1 when they were the cause of the ruin of a free way of life, 
one might desire that Rome had produced the great effects that it produced 
without having such enmities in it. So it has appeared to me a thing worthy 
of consideration to see whether a state could have been ordered in Rome 
that would have removed the aforesaid controversies. For him who wishes 
to examine this it is necessary to have recourse to those republics that have 
been free for a long while without such enmities and tumults and to see 
what state they had and whether it could be introduced in Rome. For an 
example among the ancients there is Sparta, among the moderns Venice, 
named by me above. 2 Sparta made a king, with a small Senate, who 
governed it; Venice did not divide the government by names, but under one 
appellation all those who can hold administration are called gentlemen. This 
mode was given it by chance more than by the prudence of him who gave 
them laws; for since many inhabitants retired onto the shores where that 
city is now, for the causes said above, 3 and as they grew to such a number 
that if they wished to live together they needed to make laws, they ordered a 
form of government. 4 And as they joined together often in councils to 
decide about the city, when it appeared to them that there were as many as 
would be sufficient for a political way of life, they closed to all others who 
might come newly to inhabit there the way enabling them to join in the 
government. In time, when enough inhabitants found themselves in that 
place outside the government so as to give reputation to those who 
governed, they called [the latter] gentlemen and the others the populace. 


This mode could arise and be maintained without tumult because when it 
arose whoever then inhabited Venice was put in the government, so that 
nobody could complain; those who came later to inhabit it, finding the state 
steady and closed off, had neither cause nor occasion to make a tumult. The 
cause was not there because nothing had been taken from them; the 
occasion was not there because whoever ruled held them in check and did 
not put them to work in things in which they could seize authority. Besides 
this, those who came later to inhabit Venice were not many, nor of such 
number that there was a disproportion between whoever governed them and 
those who were governed; for the number of gentlemen is either equal or 
superior to them. So for these causes Venice could order that state and 
maintain it united. 

[2] Sparta, as I said, was governed by a king and by a narrow Senate. It 
could maintain itself for so long a time because they could live united a long 
time: there were few inhabitants in Sparta, for they blocked the way to those 
who might come to inhabit it, and the laws of Lycurgus were held in repute. 
(Since they were observed, they removed all causes of tumult). For Lycurgus 
with his laws made more equality of belongings 5 in Sparta and less equality 
of rank; for there was an equal poverty and the plebeians were less 
ambitious because the ranks of the city were spread among few citizens and 
were kept at a distance from the plebs; nor did the nobles, by treating them 
badly, ever give them the desire to hold rank. This was because the Spartan 
kings, placed in that principality and set down in the middle of the nobility, 
had no greater remedy for upholding their dignity than to keep the plebs 
defended from every injury, which made the plebs not fear and not desire 
rule. 6 Since the plebs neither had nor feared rule, the rivalry that it could 
have had with the nobility was taken away, as well as the cause of tumults; 
and they could live united a long time. But two principal things caused this 
union: one, that there were few inhabitants in Sparta, and because of this 
they could be governed by few; the other, that since they did not accept 
foreigners in their republic they had opportunity neither to be corrupted nor 
to grow so much that it was unendurable by the few who governed it. 7 

[3] Considering thus all these things, one sees that it was necessary for the 
legislators of Rome to do one of two things if they wished Rome to stay 
quiet like the above-mentioned republics: either not employ the plebs in 
war, as did the Venetians, or not open the way to foreigners, as did the 
Spartans. They did both, which gave the plebs strength and increase and 
infinite opportunities for tumult. But if the Roman state had come to be 


quieter, this inconvenience would have followed: that it would also have 
been weaker because it cut off the way by which it could come to the 
greatness it achieved, so that if Rome wished to remove the causes of 
tumults, it removed too the causes of expansion. In all human things he who 
examines well sees this: that one inconvenience can never be suppressed 
without another’s cropping up. Therefore, if you wish to make a people 
numerous and armed so as to be able to make a great empire, you make it 
of such a quality that you cannot then manage it in your mode; if you 
maintain it either small or unarmed so as to be able to manage it, then if 
you acquire dominion you cannot hold it or it becomes so cowardly that you 
are the prey of whoever assaults you. And so, in every decision of ours, we 
should consider where are the fewer inconveniences and take that for the 
best policy, because nothing entirely clean and entirely without suspicion is 
ever found. So Rome in similarity to Sparta could have made a prince for 
life and made a small Senate; but it could not, like Sparta, refuse to increase 
the number of its citizens if it wished to make a great empire; that would 
have made the king for life and the small number of the Senate serve for 
little as far as union was concerned. 

[4] If someone wished, therefore, to order a republic anew, he would have 
to examine whether he wished it to expand like Rome in dominion and in 
power or truly to remain within narrow limits. In the first case it is 
necessary to order it like Rome and make a place for tumults and universal 
dissensions, as best one can; for without a great number of men, and well 
armed, a republic can never grow, or, if it grows, maintain itself. In the 
second case, you can order it like Sparta and like Venice, but because 
expansion is poison for such republics, he who orders them should, in all the 
modes he can, prohibit them from acquiring, because such acquisitions, 
founded on a weak republic, are its ruin altogether. So it happened to 
Sparta and to Venice. The first of these, after it had subjected almost all 
Greece to itself, showed its weak foundation upon one slightest accident; for 
when other cities rebelled, following the rebellion of Thebes, caused by 
Pelipodas, that republic was altogether ruined. 8 Similarly, having seized a 
great part of Italy—and the greater part not with war but with money and 
astuteness—when it had to put its forces to the proof, Venice lost everything 
in one day. 9 I would well believe that to make a republic that would last a 
long time, the mode would be to order it within like Sparta or like Venice; 
to settle it in a strong place of such power that nobody would believe he 
could crush it at once. On the other hand, it would not be so great as to be 


formidable to its neighbors; and so it could enjoy its state at length. For war 
is made on a republic for two causes: one, to become master of it; the other, 
for fear lest it seize you. These two causes the mode said above takes away 
almost altogether; for if it is difficult to capture it, as I presuppose, since it 
is well ordered for defense, it will happen rarely, or never, that one 10 can 
make a plan to acquire it. If it stays within its limits, and it is seen by 
experience that there is no ambition in it, it will never occur that one 11 will 
make war for fear of it; and so much the more would this be if there were in 
it a constitution and laws to prohibit it from expanding. Without doubt I 
believe that if the thing could be held balanced in this mode, it would be the 
true political way of fife and the true quiet of a city. But since all things of 
men are in motion and cannot stay steady, they must either rise or fall; 12 
and to many things that reason does not bring you, necessity brings you. So 
when a republic that has been ordered so as to be capable of maintaining 
itself does not expand, and necessity leads it to expand, this would come to 
take away its foundations and make it come to ruin sooner. So, on the other 
hand, if heaven were so kind that it did not have to make war, from that 
would arise the idleness to make it either effeminate or divided; these two 
things together, or each by itself, would be the cause of its ruin. Therefore, 
since one cannot, as I believe, balance this thing, nor maintain this middle 
way exactly, in ordering a republic there is need to think of the more 
honorable part and to order it so that if indeed necessity brings it to expand, 
it can conserve what it has seized. To return to the first reasoning, I believe 
that it is necessary to follow the Roman order and not that of the other 
republics—for I do not believe one can find a mode between the one and 
the other—and to tolerate the enmities that arise between the people and 
the Senate, taking them as an inconvenience necessary to arrive at Roman 
greatness. For besides the other reasons cited, in which the tribunate 
authority was demonstrated to have been necessary for the guard of 
freedom, the benefit produced in republics by the authority to accuse, which 
was among others committed to the tribunes, can easily be appreciated, as 
will be discoursed of in the following chapter. 



How Far Accusations May Be Necessary in 
a Republic to Maintain It in Freedom 

[1] To those who are posted in a city as guard of its freedom one cannot 
give a more useful and necessary authority than that of being able to accuse 
citizens to the people, or to some magistrate or council, when they sin in 
anything against the free state. This order produces two very useful effects 
for a republic. The first is that for fear of being accused citizens do not 
attempt things against the state; and when attempting them, they are 
crushed instantly and without respect. The other is that an outlet is given by 
which to vent, in some mode against some citizen, those humors that grow 
up in cities; and when these humors do not have an outlet by which they 
may be vented ordinarily, they have recourse to extraordinary modes that 
bring a whole republic to ruin. So there is nothing that makes a republic so 
stable and steady as to order it in a mode so that those alternating humors 
that agitate it can be vented in a way ordered by the laws. This can be 
demonstrated by many examples, and especially by that of Coriolanus, 
which Titus Livy brings up. 1 There he says that the Roman nobility had 
become angered against the plebs because the plebs appeared to it to have 
too much authority through the creation of the tribunes, who defended it. 
Meanwhile Rome, as it happened, had come into a great scarcity of 
provisions and the Senate had sent for grain in Sicily. Coriolanus, enemy of 
the popular faction, counseled that the time had come when, by keeping it 
famished and not distributing the grain, they could punish the plebs and take 
from it the authority that it had taken to the prejudice of the nobility. When 
that judgment came to the ears of the people, it aroused such indignation 
against Coriolanus that as he emerged from the Senate they would have 
killed him in a tumult, had the tribunes not summoned him to appear to 
defend his cause. On this incident one notes what is said above, how far it 
may be useful and necessary that republics give an outlet with their laws to 
vent the anger that the collectivity conceives against one citizen; for when 


these ordinary modes are not there, one has recourse to extraordinary ones, 
and without doubt these produce much worse effects than the former. 

[2] For if a citizen is crushed ordinarily, there follows little or no disorder in 
the republic, even though he has been done a wrong. For the execution is 
done without private forces and without foreign forces, which are the ones 
that ruin a free way of life; but it is done with public forces and orders, 
which have their particular limits and do not lead beyond 2 to something 
that may ruin the republic. As to corroborating this opinion, I wish this 
example of Coriolanus to suffice among the ancient ones, concerning which 
everyone may consider how much ill would have resulted to the Roman 
republic if he had been killed in a tumult; for from that arises offense by 
private individuals against private individuals, which offense generates fear; 
fear seeks for defense; for defense they procure partisans; from partisans 
arise the parties in cities; from parties their ruin. But since the affair was 
governed through whoever had authority for it, all those ills came to be 
taken away that could have arisen if it were governed with private authority. 

[3] We have seen in our times what innovation has done to the republic of 
Florence because the multitude was unable to vent its animus ordinarily 
against one of its citizens, as happened in the times when Francesco Valori 
was like a prince of the city. He was judged by many to be ambitious and a 
man who with his audacity and spiritedness wished to pass beyond 3 a civil 
way of fife; and there being no way in the republic to resist him except with 
a sect contrary to his, it came about that since he had no fear except of 
extraordinary modes, he began to get supporters to defend him. On the 
other side, since those who opposed him had no ordinary way to repress 
him, they thought of extraordinary ways until they came to arms. If one had 
been able to oppose him ordinarily, his authority would have been 
eliminated with harm to him alone; but since he had to be eliminated 
extraordinarily, there followed harm not only to him but to many other 
noble citizens. 

[4] One could also cite in support of the conclusion written above the 
incident that also occurred in Florence regarding Piero Soderini, which 
occurred entirely because in that republic there was no mode of accusation 
against the ambition of powerful citizens. 4 For to accuse one powerful 
individual before eight judges 5 in a republic is not enough; the judges need 
to be very many because the few always behave in the mode of the few. So 
if such modes had been there, either the citizens would have accused him, 


if he were living badly, and by such means they would have vented their 
animus without having the Spanish army come; or, if he were not living 
badly, they would not have dared to work against him for fear of being 
accused themselves. And so from each side the appetite that was the cause 
of the scandal would have ceased. 

[5] So one can conclude this: Whenever one sees that alien forces are called 
in by a party of men living in a city, one can believe it arises from its bad 
orders, because inside that wall there is no order able, without 
extraordinary modes, to vent the malignant humors that arise in men—for 
which one fully provides by ordering accusations there before very many 
judges and giving reputation to them. These modes were so well ordered in 
Rome that in so many dissensions of the plebs and the Senate, never did the 
Senate or the plebs or any particular citizen plan to avail themselves of 
external forces; for having the remedy at home, they were not compelled of 
necessity to go outside for it. Although the examples written above are very 
sufficient to prove it, nonetheless I wish to bring up another, recited by Titus 
Livy in his history. He refers to how in Chiusi, a very noble city in Tuscany 
in those times, a sister of Arruns was violated by one Lucumo, and since 
Arruns could not avenge himself because of the power of the violator, he 
went to the French, who were then reigning in that place today called 
Lombardy. He urged them to come with arms in hand to Chiusi, showing 
them that they could avenge the injury received usefully to themselves. 7 If 
Arruns had seen that he could avenge himself with the modes of the city, he 
would not have sought out barbarian forces. But as these accusations are 
useful in a republic, so calumnies are useless and harmful, as we shall 
discourse of in the following chapter. 



#?8 a 

As Much As Accusations Are Useful to 
Republics, So Much Are Calumnies 


[1] Notwithstanding that the virtue of Furius Camillus, after he had freed 
Rome from the oppression of the French, had made all Roman citizens 
yield to him without its appearing to them that reputation or rank were 
taken away from them, 1 nonetheless Manlius Capitolinus could not endure 
having so much honor and so much glory attributed to him, since it 
appeared to Manlius that he had done as much for the safety 2 of Rome; for 
having saved the Capitol he deserved as much as Camillus and as for other 
martial praise he was not inferior. So, loaded with envy, since he could not 
remain quiet because of the other’s glory and saw that he could not sow 
discord among the Fathers, he turned to the plebs, sowing various sinister 
opinions within it. Among other things he said was that the treasure 
gathered together to give to the French and then not given to them had been 
usurped by private citizens; and if it were taken back it could be converted 
to public utility, relieving the plebs of taxes or of some private debt. These 
words were able to do very much among the plebs; so it began to make a 
crowd and to make many tumults to its own purpose in the city. Since this 
thing displeased the Senate, and appeared to it momentous and dangerous, 
it created a dictator to inquire into the case and to check the impetuosity of 
Manlius. Then the dictator at once had him summoned, and the two came 
out in public confronting fronting each other, the dictator in the midst of 
the nobles and Manlius in the midst of the plebs. Manlius was asked to say 
who held this treasure he told of, because the Senate was as desirous of 
learning it as the plebs. To this Manlius did not respond specifically but kept 
evading, and said it was not necessary to tell them what they knew; so the 
dictator had him put in prison. 3 

[2] It is to be noted by this text how detestable calumnies are in free cities 
and in every other mode of life, and that to repress them one should not 


spare any order that may suit the purpose. Nor can there be a better order 
for taking them away than to open up very many places for accusations; for 
as much as accusations help republics, so much do calumnies hurt. Between 
one side and the other there is the difference that calumnies have need 
neither of witnesses nor of any other specific corroboration to prove them, 
so that everyone can be calumniated by everyone; but everyone cannot of 
course be accused, since accusations have need of true corroborations and 
of circumstances that show the truth of the accusation. Men are accused to 
magistrates, to peoples, to councils; they are calumniated in piazzas and in 
loggias. Calumny is used more where accusation is used less and where 
cities are less ordered to receive them. So an orderer of a republic should 
order that every citizen in it can accuse without any fear or without any 
respect; and having done this and observed it well, he should punish 
calumniators harshly. They cannot complain if they are punished since they 
have places open for hearing the accusations of him whom one has 
calumniated in the loggias. Where this part is not well ordered, great 
disorders always follow; for calumnies anger and do not punish citizens, and 
those angered think of getting even, hating rather than fearing the things 
said against them. 

[3] This part, as was said, was well ordered in Rome; and it has always been 
badly ordered in our city of Florence. As in Rome this order did much 
good, in Florence this disorder did much evil. Whoever reads the histories 
of this city will see how many calumnies were given out in every time 
against citizens who have been put to work in important affairs for it. Of 
one individual they said that he had stolen money from the common; of 
another, that he had not won a campaign because he had been corrupted; 
and that this other had done something so inconvenient because of his 
ambition. From this it arose that on every side hatred surged; whence they 
went to division; from division to sects; from sects to ruin. If there had been 
an order in Florence for accusing citizens and punishing calumniators, the 
infinite scandals that occurred would not have occurred. For those citizens, 
whether they were condemned or absolved, would not have been able to 
hurt the city, and very many fewer would have been accused than were 
calumniated, since one could not, as I said, accuse as one could calumniate 
everyone. Among other things a citizen could avail himself of to arrive at 
greatness have been these calumnies. They do very much for him against 
powerful citizens who are opposed to his appetite; for taking the side of the 
people, and confirming it in the bad opinion it has of them, he makes it a 


friend. Although one could bring up very many examples, I wish to be 
content with only one. The Florentine army was in the field at Lucca, 
commanded by Messer Giovanni Guicciardini, its commissioner. Either his 
bad governance or his bad fortune willed for the capture of that city not to 
occur; yet, however the case stood, Messer Giovanni was faulted, as it was 
said he had been corrupted by the Lucchese. When that calumny was 
favored by his enemies, it brought Messer Giovanni almost to ultimate 
despair. Although to justify himself he wished to be put in the hands of the 
captain, 4 nonetheless he could never justify himself because there were no 
modes in that republic to enable him to do it. On account of this there was 
great indignation among Messer Giovanni’s friends, who were the larger 
part of the great men, and among those who desired to bring innovation to 
Florence. 5 For this and other like causes, this affair grew so much that the 
ruin of the republic followed from it. 

[4] Thus Manlius Capitolinus was a calumniator, and not an accuser; and 
the Romans showed precisely in this case how calumniators should be 
punished. For one should make them become accusers, and when the 
accusation is corroborated as true, either reward them or not punish them; 
but when it is not corroborated as true, punish them as Manlius was 


That It Is Necessary to Be Alone If One 
Wishes to Order a Republic Anew or to 
Reform It Altogether outside Its Ancient 


[1] It will perhaps appear to someone that I have run too far into Roman 
history without having made any mention of the orderers of that republic or 
of the orders that concern religion or the military. So, not wishing to hold 
longer in suspense the minds of those who wish to understand some things 
regarding this part, I say that many will perhaps judge it a bad example that 
a founder of a civil way of life, as was Romulus, should first have killed his 
brother, 1 then consented to the death of Titus Tatius the Sabine, 2 chosen by 
him as partner in the kingdom—judging because of this that its citizens 
might, with the authority of their prince, through ambition and desire to 
command, be able to offend those who might be opposed to their authority. 
That opinion would be true if one did not consider what end had induced 
him to commit such a homicide. 

[2] This should be taken as a general rule: that it never or rarely happens 
that 2 any republic or kingdom is ordered well from the beginning or 
reformed altogether anew outside its old orders unless it is ordered by one 
individual. Indeed it is necessary that one alone give the mode and that any 
such ordering depend on his mind. So a prudent orderer of a republic, who 
has the intent to wish to help not himself but the common good, not for his 
own succession but for the common fatherland, should contrive to have 
authority alone; nor will a wise understanding 3 ever reprove anyone for any 
extraordinary action that he uses to order a kingdom or constitute a 
republic. It is very suitable that when the deed accuses him, the effect 
excuses him; and when the effect is good, as was that of Romulus, it will 
always excuse the deed; for he who is violent to spoil, not he who is violent 
to mend, should be reproved. He should indeed be so prudent and virtuous 


that he does not leave the authority he took as an inheritance to another; for 
since men are more prone to evil than to good, his successor could use 
ambitiously that which had been used virtuously by him. Besides this, if one 
individual is capable of ordering, the thing itself is ordered to last long not 
if it remains on the shoulders of one individual but rather if it remains in 
the care of many and its maintenance stays with many. For as many are not 
capable of ordering a thing because they do not know its good, which is 
because of the diverse opinions among them, so when they have come to 
know it, they do not agree to abandon it. That Romulus was of those, that he 
deserves excuse in the deaths of his brother and of his partner, and that 
what he did was for the common good and not for his own ambition, is 
demonstrated by his having at once ordered a Senate with which he took 
counsel and by whose opinion he decided. 4 He who considers well the 
authority that Romulus reserved for himself will see that none other was 
reserved except that of commanding the armies when war was decided on 
and that of convoking the Senate. That may be seen later, when Rome 
became free through the expulsion of the Tarquins; then no ancient order 
was innovated by the Romans, except that in place of a perpetual king there 
were two annual consuls. 5 This testifies that all the first orders of that city 
were more conformable to a civil and free way of life than to an absolute 
and tyrannical one. 

[3] One could give infinite examples to sustain the things written above, 
such as Moses, Lycurgus, Solon, and other founders of kingdoms and 
republics who were able to form laws for the purpose of the common good 
because they had one authority attributed to them; but I wish to omit them 
as a thing known. 

[4] I shall bring up only one of them, not so celebrated, but to be considered 
by those who desire to be orderers of good laws. When Agis, king of Sparta, 
desired to return the Spartans to the limits within which the laws of 
Lycurgus had enclosed them, it appeared to him that, because it had in 
some part deviated, his city had lost very much of its ancient virtue, and, in 
consequence, its strength and empire. He was killed in his first beginnings 
by the Spartan ephors as a man who wished to seize the tyranny. 6 When 
Cleomenes succeeded to the kingdom, the same desire arose in him because 
of the records and writings he had found of Agis, in which his mind and 
intention were seen. But he knew that he could not do this good for his 
fatherland unless he alone were in authority since it appeared to him that 
because of the ambition of men, he could not do something useful to many 


against the wish of the few. He took a convenient opportunity, had all the 
ephors and anyone else who might be able to stand against him killed, and 
then renewed altogether the laws of Lycurgus. That decision was apt for 
making Sparta rise again and for giving to Cleomenes the reputation that 
Lycurgus had, if it had not been for the power of the Macedonians and the 
weakness of the other Greek republics. For after such an order, when he 
was assaulted by the Macedonians, found himself alone and inferior in 
strength, and had no one with whom to seek refuge, he was conquered; and 
his plan, however just and praiseworthy, remained imperfect. 7 

[5] Thus having considered all these things, I conclude that to order a 
republic it is necessary to be alone; and for the death of Remus and Titus 
Tatius, Romulus deserves excuse and not blame. 



As Much As the Founders of a Republic 
and of a Kingdom Are Praiseworthy, So 
Much Those of a Tyranny Are Worthy of 


[1] Among all men praised, the most praised are those who have been heads 
and orderers of religions. Next, then, are those who have founded either 
republics or kingdoms. After them are celebrated those who, placed over 
armies, have expanded either their kingdom or that of the fatherland. To 
these literary men are added; and because these are of many types, they are 
each of them celebrated according to his rank. To any other man, the 
number of which is infinite, some share of praise is attributed that his art or 
occupation brings him. On the contrary, men are infamous and detestable 
who are destroyers of religions, squanderers of kingdoms and republics, and 
enemies of the virtues, of letters, and of every other art that brings utility 
and honor to the human race, as are the impious, the violent, the ignorant, 
the worthless, the idle, the cowardly. And no one will ever be so crazy or so 
wise, so wicked or so good, who will not praise what is to be praised and 
blame what is to be blamed, when the choice between the two qualities of 
men is placed before him. Nonetheless, afterward, deceived by a false good 
and a false glory, almost all let themselves go, either voluntarily or 
ignorantly, into the ranks of those who deserve more blame than praise; and 
though, to their perpetual honor, they are able to make a republic or a 
kingdom, they turn to tyranny. Nor do they perceive how much fame, how 
much glory, how much honor, security, quiet, with satisfaction of mind, 
they flee from by this policy; and how much infamy, reproach, blame, 
danger, and disquiet they run into. 

[2] It is impossible for those who live in a private state in a republic or who 
either by fortune or by virtue become princes of it, if they read the histories 
and make capital of the memories of ancient things, not to wish to live in 
their fatherlands rather as Scipios than Caesars if they are private persons 


and rather as Agesilauses, Timoleons, and Dions than Nabises, Phalarises, 
and Dionysiuses if they are princes. For they would see that the latter are 
reproached to the utmost and the former exceedingly praised. They would 
also see that Timoleon and the others did not have less authority in their 
fatherlands than Dionysius and Phalaris, but they would see they had more 
security by far. 

[3] Nor should anyone deceive himself because of the glory of Caesar, 
hearing him especially celebrated by the writers; for those who praise him 
are corrupted by his fortune and awed by the duration of the empire that, 
ruling under that name, did not permit writers to speak freely of him. 1 But 
whoever wishes to know what the writers would say of him if they were free 
should see what they say of Catiline. 2 Caesar is so much more detestable 3 as 
he who has done an evil is more to blame than he who has wished to do one. 
He should also see with how much praise they celebrate Brutus, 4 as though, 
unable to blame Caesar because of his power, they celebrate his enemy. 

[4] He who has become a prince in a republic should also consider, when 
Rome became an empire, how much more praise those emperors deserved 
who lived under the laws and as good princes than those who lived to the 
contrary. He will see that praetorian soldiers were not necessary to Titus, 
Nervus, Trajan, Hadrian, Antonius, and Marcus, nor the multitude of 
legions to defend them, because their customs, the benevolence of the 
people, and the love of the Senate defended them. He will see also that the 
eastern and western armies were not enough to save Caligula, Nero, 
Vitellius, and so many other criminal emperors from the enemies whom 
their wicked customs and their malevolent life had generated for them. If 
their history were well considered, it would be very much a lesson for any 
prince, to show him the way of glory or of blame and of his own security or 
fear. For of the twenty-six emperors from Caesar to Maximinus, sixteen 
were killed, ten died ordinarily. 5 If any of those who were killed were good, 
such as Galba and Pertinax, he was killed by the corruption that his 
predecessor had left in the soldiers. And if there was any criminal among 
those who died ordinarily, such as Severus, it arose from his very great 
fortune and virtue, two things that accompany few men. He will also see by 
the reading of this history how a good kingdom can be ordered; for all the 
emperors who succeeded to the empire by inheritance, except Titus, were 
bad. Those who succeeded by adoption were all good, as were the five from 
Nerva to Marcus; and as the empire fell to heirs, it returned to its ruin. 


[5] Thus, let a prince put before himself the times from Nerva to Marcus, 
and compare them with those that came before and that came later; and 
then let him choose in which he would wish to be born or over which he 
would wish to be placed. For in those governed by the good he will see a 
secure prince in the midst of his secure citizens, and the world full of peace 
and justice; he will see the Senate with its authority, the magistrates with 
their honors, the rich citizens enjoying their riches, nobility and virtue 
exalted; he will see all quiet and all good, and, on the other side, all rancor, 
all license, corruption, and ambition eliminated. He will see golden times 
when each can hold and defend the opinion he wishes. He will see, in sum, 
the world in triumph, the prince full of reverence and glory, the peoples full 
of love and security. If he then considers minutely the times of the other 
emperors, he will see them atrocious because of wars, discordant because of 
seditions, cruel in peace and in war; so many princes killed with steel, so 
many civil wars, so many external ones; Italy afflicted and full of new 
misfortunes, its cities ruined and sacked. He will see Rome burning, the 
Capitol taken down by its own citizens, the ancient temples desolate, 
ceremonies corrupt, the cities full of adulterers. He will see the sea full of 
exiles, the shores full of blood. He will see innumerable cruelties follow in 
Rome, and nobility, riches, past honors, and, above all, virtue imputed as 
capital sins. He will see calumniators rewarded, slaves corrupted against 
their master, freedmen against their patron, and those who lacked enemies 
oppressed by friends. 6 And he will then know very well how many 
obligations Rome, Italy, and the world owe to Caesar. 

[6] Without doubt, if he is born of man, he will be terrified away from every 
imitation of wicked times and will be inflamed with an immense desire to 
follow the good. And truly, if a prince seeks the glory of the world, he ought 
to desire to possess a corrupt city—not to spoil it entirely as did Caesar but 
to reorder it as did Romulus. And truly the heavens cannot give to men a 
greater opportunity for glory, nor can men desire any greater. If one who 
wishes to order a city well had of necessity to lay down the principate, 7 he 
would deserve some excuse if he did not order it so as not to fall from that 
rank; but if he is able to hold the principate and order it, he does not merit 
any excuse. In sum, those to whom the heavens give such an opportunity 
may consider that two ways have been placed before them: one that makes 
them live secure and after death renders them glorious; the other that makes 
them live in continual anxieties and after death leaves them a sempiternal 



#?11 ft 

Of the Religion of the Romans 

[1] Although Rome had Romulus as its first orderer and has to acknowledge, 
as daughter, its birth and education as from him, 1 nonetheless, since the 
heavens judged that the orders of Romulus would not suffice for such an 
empire, they inspired in the breast of the Roman Senate the choosing of 
Numa Pompilius as successor to Romulus so that those things omitted by 
him might be ordered by Numa. As he found a very ferocious people and 
wished to reduce it to civil obedience with the arts of peace, he turned to 
religion as a thing altogether necessary if he wished to maintain a 
civilization; and he constituted it so that for many centuries there was never 
so much fear of God as in that republic, which made easier whatever 
enterprise the Senate or the great men of Rome might plan to make. 2 
Whoever reviews 3 infinite actions, both of the people of Rome all together 
and of many Romans by themselves, will see that the citizens feared to 
break an oath much more than the laws, like those who esteemed the power 
of God more than that of men, as is seen manifestly by the examples of 
Scipio and of Manlius Torquatus. 4 For after the defeat that Hannibal had 
given to the Romans at Cannae, many citizens gathered together and, 
terrified for their fatherland, agreed to abandon Italy and move to Sicily. 
Hearing this, Scipio went to meet them and with naked steel in hand 
constrained them to swear they would not abandon the fatherland. 5 Lucius 
Manlius, father of Titus Manlius, who was later called Torquatus, had been 
accused by Marcus Pomponius, tribune of the plebs; before the day of the 
judgment came, Titus went to meet Marcus, and, threatening to kill him if 
he did not swear to drop the accusation against his father, he constrained 
him to take the oath; and Marcus, having sworn through fear, dropped the 
accusation. So those citizens whom the love of fatherland and its laws did 
not keep in Italy were kept there by an oath that they were forced to take; 
and the tribune put aside the hatred he had for the father, the injury that the 
son had done him, and his own honor to obey the oath he had taken. 6 This 


arose from nothing other than that religion Numa had introduced in that 

[2] Whoever considers well the Roman histories sees how much religion 
served to command armies, to animate the plebs, to keep men good, to 
bring shame to the wicked. So if one had to dispute over which prince 
Rome was more obligated to, Romulus or Numa, I believe rather that Numa 
would obtain the first rank; for where there is religion, arms can easily be 
introduced, and where there are arms and not religion, the latter can be 
introduced only with difficulty. One sees that for Romulus to order the 
Senate and to make other civil and military orders, the authority of God was 
not necessary; 7 but it was quite necessary to Numa, who pretended to be 
intimate with a nymph who counseled him on what he had to counsel the 
people. 8 It all arose because he wished to put new and unaccustomed orders 
in the city and doubted that his authority would suffice. 

[3] And truly there was never any orderer of extraordinary laws for a people 
who did not have recourse to God, because otherwise they would not have 
been accepted. For a prudent individual knows many goods that do not have 
in themselves evident reasons with which one can persuade others. Thus 
wise men who wish to take away this difficulty have recourse to God. So did 
Lycurgus; 9 so did Solon; 10 so did many others who have had the same end 
as they. Marveling, thus, at his goodness and prudence, the Roman people 
yielded to his every decision. Indeed it is true that since those times were 
full of religion and the men with whom he had to labor were crude, they 
made much easier the carrying out of his plans, since he could easily 
impress any new form whatever on them. Without doubt, whoever wished 
to make a republic in the present times would find it easier among 
mountain men, where there is no civilization, than among those who are 
used to living in cities, where civilization is corrupt; and a sculptor will get a 
beautiful statue more easily from coarse marble than from one badly 
blocked out by another. 

[4] Everything considered, thus, I conclude that the religion introduced by 
Numa was among the first causes of the happiness of that city. For it caused 
good orders; good orders make good fortune; and from good fortune arose 
the happy successes of enterprises. As the observance of the divine cult is 
the cause of the greatness of republics, so disdain for it is the cause of their 
ruin. For where the fear of God fails, it must be either that the kingdom 
comes to ruin or that it is sustained by the fear of a prince, which supplies 


the defects of religion. Because princes are of short life, it must be that the 
kingdom will fail soon, as his virtue fails. Hence it arises that kingdoms that 
depend solely on the virtue of one man are hardly durable, because that 
virtue fails with the life of that one; and it rarely happens that it is restored 
by succession, as Dante prudently says: 

Rarely does human probity descend by the branches; 

and this He wills who gives it, 

that it be called for from him.' ' 

[5] Thus it is the safety of a republic or a kingdom to have not one prince 
who governs prudently while he lives, but one individual who orders it so 
that it is also maintained when he dies. Although coarse men may be more 
easily persuaded to a new order or opinion, this does make it impossible 
also to persuade to it civilized men who presume they are not coarse. To the 
people of Florence it does not appear that they are either ignorant or coarse; 
nonetheless, they were persuaded by Friar Girolamo Savonarola that he 
spoke with God. 12 I do not wish to judge whether it is true or not, because 
one should speak with reverence of such a man; but I do say that an infinite 
number believed him without having seen anything extraordinary to make 
them believe him. For his life, learning, and the subject he took up were 
sufficient to make them lend faith. No one, therefore, should be terrified 
that he cannot carry out what has been carried out by others, for as was said 
in our preface, men are born, live, and die always in one and the same 


12 ft 

Of How Much Importance It Is to Take 
Account of Religion, and How Italy, for 
Lacking It by Means of the Roman 
Church, Has Been Ruined 

[1] Those princes or those republics that wish to maintain themselves 
uncorrupt have above everything else to maintain the ceremonies of their 
religion uncorrupt and hold them always in veneration; for one can have no 
greater indication of the ruin of a province than to see the divine cult 
disdained. This is easy to understand once it is known what the religion 
where a man is born is founded on, for every religion has the foundation of 
its life on some principal order of its own. The life of the Gentile religion 
was founded on the responses of the oracles and on the sect of the diviners 
and augurs. All their other ceremonies, sacrifices, and rites depended on 
them; for they easily believed that that god who could predict your future 
good or your future ill for you could also grant it to you. From these arose 
the temples, from these the sacrifices, from these the supplications and 
every other ceremony to venerate them; through these the oracle of Delos, 
the temple of Jupiter Ammon, and other celebrated oracles who filled the 
world with admiration and devotion. As these later began to speak in the 
mode of the powerful, and as that falsity was exposed among peoples, men 
became incredulous and apt to disturb every good order. Thus, princes of a 
republic or of a kingdom should maintain the foundations of the religion 
they hold; and if this is done, it will be an easy thing for them to maintain 
their republic religious and, in consequence, good and united. All things 
that arise in favor of that religion they should favor and magnify, even 
though they judge them false; and they should do it so much the more as 
they are more prudent and more knowing of natural things. Because this 
mode has been observed by wise men, the belief 1 has arisen in miracles, 
which are celebrated even in false religions; for the prudent enlarge upon 
them from whatever beginning they arise, and their authority then gives 


them credit 2 with anyone whatever. There were very many of these 
miracles at Rome; among them was that when Roman soldiers were sacking 
the city of the Veientes, some of them entered the temple of Juno and, 
drawing near her image, said to it, “Do you want to come to Rome?” 3 It 
appeared to someone that he saw her nod and to someone else that she said 
yes. For, being men full of religion (which Titus Livy demonstrates, for in 
entering the temple they entered without tumult, all devoted and full of 
reverence), it appeared to them they heard the response to their question 
that they had perhaps presupposed. That opinion and credulity were 
altogether favored and magnified by Camillus and by the other princes of 
the city. If such religion had been maintained by the princes of the 
Christian republic as was ordered by its giver, the Christian states and 
republics would be more united, much happier than they are. Nor can one 
make any better conjecture as to its decline than to see that those peoples 
who are closest to the Roman church, the head of our religion, have less 
religion. Whoever might consider its foundations and see how much present 
usage is different from them might judge, without doubt, that either its ruin 
or its scourging is near. 

[2] Because many are of the opinion that the well-being of the cities of 
Italy arises from the Roman church, I wish to discourse of those reasons 
that occur to me against it. I will cite two very powerful reasons that, 
according to me, are incontrovertible. The first is that because of the wicked 
examples of that court, this province has lost all devotion and all religion— 
which brings with it infinite inconveniences and infinite disorders; for as 
where there is religion one presupposes every good, so where it is missing 
one presupposes the contrary. Thus we Italians have this first obligation to 
the church and to the priests that we have become without religion and 
wicked; but we have yet a greater one to them that is the second cause of 
our ruin. This is that the church has kept and keeps this province divided. 
And truly no province has ever been united or happy unless it has all come 
under obedience to one republic or to one prince, as happened to France 
and to Spain. The cause that Italy is not in the same condition and does not 
also have one republic or one prince to govern it is solely the church. For 
although it has inhabited and held a temporal empire there, it has not been 
so powerful nor of such virtue as to be able to seize the tyranny of Italy 4 and 
make itself prince of it. On the other hand, it has not been so weak that it 
has been unable to call in a power to defend it against one that had become 
too powerful in Italy, for fear of losing dominion over its temporal things. 


This has been seen formerly in very many experiences: when, by means of 
Charlemagne, it expelled the Longobards, who were then almost king of all 
Italy, 5 and when in our times it took away power from the Venetians with 
the aid of France, 6 then expelled the French with the aid of the Swiss. 7 
Thus, since the church has not been powerful enough to be able to seize 
Italy, nor permitted another to seize it, it has been the cause that [Italy] has 
not been able to come under one head but has been under many princes and 
lords, from whom so much disunion and so much weakness have arisen that 
it has been led to be the prey not only of barbarian powers but of whoever 
assaults it. For this we other Italians have an obligation to the church and 
not to others. Whoever wished to see the truth more readily by certain 
experience would need to be of such power as to send the Roman court, 
with all the authority it has in Italy, to inhabit the towns of the Swiss. They 
are today the only peoples who live according to the ancients as regards 
both religion and military orders; and one would see that in little time the 
bad customs of that court would make more disorder in that province than 
any other accident that could arise there at any time. 


« 13 ?* 

How the Romans Made Religion Serve to 
Reorder the City and to Carry Out Their 
Enterprises and to Stop Tumults 

[1] It does not appear to me beside the point to bring up some example 
when the Romans made religion serve to reorder the city and to carry out 
their enterprises; and although there are many in Titus Livy, nonetheless I 
wish to be content with these. After the Roman people had created tribunes 
with consular power and they were all plebeians except for one, and when 
plague and famine occurred that year and certain prodigies came, the nobles 
used the opportunity in the next 1 creation of tribunes to say that the gods 
were angry because Rome had used the majesty of its empire badly, and 
that there was no remedy for placating the gods other than to return the 
election of tribunes to its place. From this it arose that the plebs, terrified by 
this religion, created as tribunes all nobles. 2 One also sees in the capture of 
the city of the Veientes how the captains of armies availed themselves of 
religion to keep them disposed to an enterprise. For when Lake Albanus 
rose wonderfully that year and the Roman soldiers were annoyed because of 
the long siege and wished to return to Rome, the Romans found that Apollo 
and certain other responses said that the city of the Veientes would be 
captured the year that Lake Albanus overflowed. This thing made the 
soldiers endure the vexations of the siege, held by this hope of capturing the 
town; and they stayed, content to carry out the enterprise, so that Camillus, 
having been made dictator, captured that city after ten years during which it 
had been besieged. 3 So, used well, religion helped both for the capture of 
that city and for the restitution of the tribunate to the nobility; for without 
the said means, both one and the other would have been conducted with 

[2] I do not wish to fail to bring up another example to this purpose. Very 
many tumults had arisen in Rome caused by the tribune Terentillus when he 
wished to propose a certain law, for the causes that will be told of below in 


its place. 4 Among the first remedies that the nobility used against him was 
religion, which they made serve in two modes. In the first, they had the 
Sybilline books seen and made to respond that through civil sedition, 
dangers of losing its freedom hung over the city that year—a thing that, 
though exposed by the tribunes, nonetheless put such terror in the breasts of 
the plebs that it was cooled off in following them. 5 The other mode was 
when one Appius Erdonius, with a multitude of exiles and slaves to a 
number of four thousand men, seized the Capitol by night, so that one could 
fear that if the Aequi and the Volsci, perpetual enemies to the Roman 
name, had come to Rome, they would have captured it. 6 The tribunes did 
not because of this cease their persistence in proposing the Terentillan law, 
saying that the onslaught was pretended and not true; one Publius 
Ruberius, 7 a citizen grave and of authority, came outside the Senate with 
words, part loving, part threatening, showing the dangers to the city and the 
untimeliness of their demand. So he constrained the plebs to swear it would 
not depart from the wish of the consul, so that the plebs, obeying, recovered 
the Capitol by force. But as Publius Valerius the consul was killed in the 
capture, at once Titus Quintius was remade consul. 8 So as not to let the 
plebs rest or give it room to think about the Terentillan law, he commanded 
it to go out of Rome to go against the Volsci, saying that because of the oath 
it had made not to abandon the consul, it was obligated to follow him— 
which the tribunes opposed, saying that that oath had been given to the dead 
consul, not to him. Nonetheless, Titus Livy shows that for fear of religion 
the plebs wished rather to obey the consul than to believe the tribunes, 
saying these words in favor of the ancient religion: “This negligence of the 
gods that now possesses the age had not yet come, nor did each make oath 
and laws suitable by interpreting for himself.” 9 The tribunes, fearing 
because of this thing lest they lose all their dignity, agreed with the consul 
that they would remain in obedience to him and that for one year they 
would not discuss 10 the Terentillan law and the consuls could not, for a year, 
take the plebs out to war. So religion made the Senate overcome the 
difficulties that would never have been overcome without it. 


« 14 ?* 

The Romans Interpreted the Auspices 
according to Necessity, and with Prudence 
Made a Show of Observing Religion When 
Forced Not to Observe It; and If Anyone 
Rashly Disdained It, They Punished Him 

[1] Not only were the auguries the foundation, in good part, of the ancient 
religion of the Gentiles, as was discoursed of above, but also they were the 
cause of the well-being of the Roman republic. Hence the Romans took 
more care of them than of any other order in it and used them in consular 
assemblies, in beginning enterprises, in leading out armies, in making 
battles, and in every important action of theirs, civil or military; nor would 
they ever go on an expedition unless they had persuaded the soldiers that the 
gods promised them victory. Among the other auspices, they had in their 
armies certain orders of augurs whom they called chicken-men; and 
whenever they were ordered to do battle with the enemy, they wished the 
chicken-men to take their auspices. If the chickens ate, they engaged in 
combat with a good augury; if they did not eat, they abstained from the 
fight. Nonetheless, when reason showed them a thing they ought to do— 
notwithstanding that the auspices had been adverse—they did it in any 
mode. But they turned it around with means and modes so aptly that it did 
not appear that they had done it with disdain for religion. 

[2] One such means was used by the consul Papirius in a most important 
fight he had with the Samnites, after which they remained weak and 
afflicted in everything. For when Papirius was in his camp in front of the 
Samnites and wished to do battle because it appeared to him that victory in 
the fight was certain, he commanded the chicken-men to take their 
auspices. But when the chickens did not eat, the prince of the chicken-men, 
seeing the army’s great disposition to engage in combat and the opinion in 
the captain and in all the soldiers that they would win, related to the consul 


that the auspices went well, so as not to deprive the army of the opportunity 
of working well. So while Papirius was ordering the squadrons, some of the 
chicken-men said to certain soldiers that the chickens had not eaten; they 
told it to Spurius Papirius, nephew of the consul. When he related it to the 
consul, the latter responded at once that he should try to do his duty well; 
that as for him and the army, the auspices were good; and if the chicken- 
man had told lies, they would return to his prejudice. So that the effect 
would correspond to the prognostication, he commanded the legates to 
place the chicken-men in the front of the fight. Then it happened that when 
going against the enemy, a javelin thrown by a Roman soldier by chance 
killed the prince of the chicken-men. When the consul heard this, he said 
that everything was going well and with the favor of the gods, for by the 
death of that liar the army had been purged of every fault and of all the 
anger that they had assumed against it. And so, by knowing well how to 
accommodate his plans to the auspices, he took up the policy of fighting 
without the army’s perceiving that he had neglected in any part the orders of 
their religion. 1 

[3] Appius Pulcher 2 did the contrary in Sicily during the first Punic War. 
For when he wished to fight with the Carthaginian army, he had the 
chicken-men take the auspices; and when they related that the chickens had 
not eaten, he said, “Let’s see if they wish to drink!”—and had them thrown 
in the ocean. Then, fighting, he lost the battle. For this he was condemned at 
Rome and Papirius honored, not so much because one had won and the 
other lost as because one had acted against the auspices prudently and the 
other rashly. 3 Nor did this mode of taking auspices tend toward any end 
other than to make the soldiers go confidently into the fight, from which 
confidence victory almost always arose. This was used not only by the 
Romans but also by foreigners, of which it appears to me I ought to bring up 
an example in the following chapter. 



The Samnites, as an Extreme Remedy for 
the Things Afflicting Them, Had Recourse 

to Religion 

[1] After the Samnites had had many defeats from the Romans and had 
been destroyed in Tuscany by the last one, with their armies and captains 
killed, and after their partners, like the Tuscans, the French, and the 
Umbrians, had been conquered, “they could no longer stand either by their 
own or by external forces; nonetheless they did not abstain from war, so far 
they were from tiring even of freedom they had unsuccessfully defended; 
and they would rather be conquered than not attempt victory.” 1 Hence they 
decided to make the last try. Because they knew that if they wished to win it 
was necessary to induce obstinacy in the spirits of the soldiers, and that to 
induce it there was no better means than religion, they thought of repeating 
an ancient sacrifice of theirs through Ovius Paccius, their priest. 2 He 
ordered it in this form: when the solemn sacrifice had been made, and, 
among the dead victims and the flaming altars, the heads of the army had all 
been made to swear never to abandon the fight, they called up the soldiers 
one by one; and among the altars, in the midst of many centurions with 
naked swords in hand, they made them swear, first, that they would never 
retell anything they had seen or heard. Then, with words of execration and 
verses full of fright, they made them promise to the gods to be quick to go 
where the commanders sent them, and never to flee from the fight, and to 
kill anyone they saw fleeing. If one did not observe this, it would return 
upon the head of his family and his line. When some of them, terrified, did 
not wish to swear, they were at once killed by their centurions, so that all 
the others who came after them swore, made fearful by the ferocity of the 
spectacle. To make their assemblage more magnificent, there being forty 
thousand men, they dressed half in white with crests and feathers on top of 
their helmets; and, so ordered, they were posted near Aquilonia. Against 
them came Papirius, who to encourage his soldiers said, “Crests do not 


make wounds, and the Roman javelin goes through painted and gilded 
shields.” 3 To weaken the opinion his soldiers had of the enemy, he said the 
oath [the Samnites] had taken represented their fear and not their strength, 
for they had to have fear of citizens, gods, and enemies at the same time. 
When they came to conflict, the Samnites were overcome, because Roman 
virtue and the fear conceived out of past defeats overcame whatever 
obstinacy they were able to assume by virtue of religion and of the oath they 
had taken. 4 Nonetheless, one sees that to them it did not appear they could 
have any other refuge, nor try any other remedy from which they could take 
hope of recovering lost virtue. This testifies in full how much confidence can 
be had through religion well used. Although this part might perhaps require 
to be placed rather among foreign 5 things, since it nonetheless depends on 
one of the most important orders of the republic of Rome, it appeared to 
me [good] to connect it in this place, so as not to divide this matter and to 
have to return to it several times. 


« 16 ?* 

A People Used to Living under a Prince 
Maintains Its Freedom with Difficulty, If 
by Some Accident It Becomes Free 

[1] Infinite examples read in the remembrances of ancient histories 
demonstrate how much difficulty there is for a people used to living under a 
prince to preserve its freedom afterward, if by some accident it acquires it, 
as Rome acquired it after the expulsion of the Tarquins. Such difficulty is 
reasonable; for that people is nothing other than a brute animal that, 
although of a ferocious and feral nature, has always been nourished in 
prison and in servitude. Then, if it is left free in a field to its fate, it becomes 
the prey of the first one who seeks to rechain it, not being used to feed itself 
and not knowing places where it may have to take refuge. 

[2] The same happens to a people: since it is used to living under the 
government of others, not knowing how to reason about either public 
defense or public offense, neither knowing princes nor known by them, it 
quickly returns beneath a yoke that is most often heavier than the one it had 
removed from its neck a little before. It finds itself in these difficulties 
whenever the matter is corrupt. For a people into which corruption has 
entered in everything cannot live free, not for a short time or at all, as will 
be discoursed of below. So our reasonings are about those peoples among 
whom corruption has not expanded very much and there is more of the 
good than of the spoiled. 

[3] To that written above another difficulty is joined, which is that the state 
that becomes free makes partisan enemies and not partisan friends. All 
those become its partisan enemies who were prevailing under the tyrannical 
state, feeding off the riches of the prince; and when the ability to prevail is 
taken away from them, they cannot live content and are forced, each one, to 
attempt to take up the tyranny again so as to return to their authority. One 
does not acquire partisan friends, as I said, because a free way of life 
proffers honors and rewards through certain honest and determinate causes, 


and outside these it neither rewards nor honors anyone; and when one has 
those honors and those useful things that it appears to him he merits, he 
does not confess that he has an obligation to those who reward him. Besides 
this, the common utility that is drawn from a free way of life is not 
recognized by anyone while it is possessed: this is being able to enjoy one’s 
things freely, without any suspicion, not fearing for the honor of wives and 
that of children, not to be afraid for oneself. For no one ever confesses that 
he has an obligation to one who does not offend him. 

[4] So, as is said above, a state that is free and that newly emerges comes to 
have partisan enemies and not partisan friends. If one wishes to remedy 
these inconveniences and the disorders that the difficulties written above 
might bring with them, there is no remedy more powerful, nor more valid, 
more secure, and more necessary, than to kill the sons of Brutus. As the 
history shows, they were induced to conspire with other young Romans 
against the fatherland because of nothing other than that they could not take 
advantage extraordinarily under the consuls as under the king, so that the 
freedom of that people appeared to have become their servitude. 1 Whoever 
takes up the governing of a multitude, either by the way of freedom or by 
the way of principality, and does not secure himself against those who are 
enemies to that new order makes a state of short life. It is true that I judge 
unhappy those princes who have to hold to extraordinary ways to secure 
their states, since they have the multitude as enemies. For the one who has 
the few as enemies secures himself easily and without many scandals, but he 
who has the collectivity as enemy never secures himself; and the more 
cruelty he uses, the weaker his principality becomes. So the greatest remedy 
he has is to seek to make the people friendly to himself. 

[5] Although this discourse does not conform to the heading, 2 since it 
speaks here of a prince and there of a republic, nonetheless, so as not to 
have to return to this matter, I wish to speak of it briefly. Therefore, if a 
prince wishes to win over a people that has been an enemy to him— 
speaking of those princes who have become tyrants over their fatherlands— 
I say that he should examine first what the people desires; and he will 
always find that it desires two things: one, to be avenged against those who 
are the cause that it is servile; the other, to recover its freedom. The first 
desire the prince can satisfy entirely, the second in part. As to the first, there 
is an example to the point. When Clearchus, tyrant of Heraclea, was in 
exile, it happened that in the course of a controversy that came up between 
the people and the aristocrats of Heraclea, the aristocrats, seeing they were 


inferior, turned to favoring Clearchus and, having conspired with him, 
brought him to Heraclea against the popular disposition; and they took 
freedom away from the people. 3 So, finding himself between the insolence 
of the aristocrats, whom he could not in any mode either make content or 
correct, and the rage of the people, 4 who could not endure having lost their 
freedom, Clearchus decided to free himself at one stroke from the vexation 
of the great and to win over the people to himself. Having taken a 
convenient opportunity for this, he cut to pieces all the aristocrats, to the 
extreme satisfaction of the people. 5 So in this way he satisfied one of the 
wishes that peoples have—that is, to be avenged. But as to the other popular 
desire, to recover freedom, since the prince cannot satisfy it, he should 
examine what causes are those that make [peoples] desire to be free. He 
will find that a small part of them desires to be free so as to command, but 
all the others, who are infinite, desire freedom so as to live secure. For in all 
republics, ordered in whatever mode, never do even forty or fifty citizens 
reach the ranks of command; and because this is a small number, it is an 
easy thing to secure oneself against them, either by getting rid of them or by 
having them share in so many honors, according to their situations, that 
they have to be in good part content. The others, to whom it is enough to 
live secure, are easily satisfied by making orders and laws in which universal 
security is included, together with one’s own power. If a prince does this, 
and the people see that he does not break such laws because of any 
accident, in a short time he will begin to live secure and content. As an 
example there is the kingdom of France, which lives secure because of 
nothing other than that the kings are obligated by infinite laws in which the 
security of all its peoples is included. And he who ordered that state wished 
those kings to act in their own mode as to arms and money, but in every 
other thing they should not be able to dispose except as the laws order. That 
prince, then, or that republic that does not secure itself at the beginning of 
its state must secure itself at the first opportunity, as did the Romans. 
Whoever lets that pass repents later for not having done what he should have 

[6] Since, therefore, the Roman people was not yet corrupt when it 
recovered its freedom—the sons of Brutus having been killed and the 
Tarquins eliminated—it could maintain it with all those modes and orders 
that have been discoursed of another time. But if that people had been 
corrupt, neither in Rome nor elsewhere does one find sound remedies for 
maintaining it, as will be shown in the following chapter. 



«17 n 

Having Come to Freedom, a Corrupt 
People Can with the Greatest Difficulty 
Maintain Itself Free 

[1] I judge that it was necessary either that the kings be extinguished in 
Rome or that Rome in a very short time become weak and of no value. For 
considering how much corruption those kings had come to, if two or three 
such had followed in succession, and the corruption that was in them had 
begun to spread through the members, as soon as the members had been 
corrupted it would have been impossible ever to reform it. But since they 
lost the head when the trunk was sound, they could easily be brought to live 
free and ordered. One should presuppose as a thing very true that a corrupt 
city that lives under a prince can never be turned into a free one, even if that 
prince is eliminated along with all his line. On the contrary, one prince 
must eliminate the other; and without the creation of a new lord it never 
settles down, unless indeed the goodness of one individual, together with 
virtue, keeps it free. But such freedom will last as long as the life of that 
one, as happened in Syracuse with Dion and Timoleon, whose virtue in 
diverse times kept that city free while each lived; when they were dead, it 
returned to its former tyranny. But one sees no stronger example than that 
of Rome. When the Tarquins were expelled, Rome could at once take and 
maintain its freedom, but after Caesar died, after Gaius Caligula died, after 
Nero died, when the whole line of Caesar was eliminated, not only could it 
never maintain but it could not even give a beginning to freedom. So great a 
difference of results in one and the same city arose from nothing other than 
that in the times of the Tarquins the Roman people was not yet corrupt, and 
in these last times it was very corrupt. For then to maintain it steadfast and 
disposed to avoid kings it was enough only to make it swear that it would 
never consent that someone should reign in Rome, but in other times the 
authority and severity of Brutus, 1 together with all the eastern legions, were 
not enough to hold it so disposed as to wish to maintain that freedom that 


he, in likeness to the first Brutus, 2 had restored to it. This arose from the 
corruption that the Marian parties had put in the people; Caesar, as their 
head, could so blind the multitude that it did not recognize the yoke that it 
was putting on its own neck. 

[2] Although this example of Rome is to be preferred to any other example 
whatever, nonetheless I wish to bring up peoples known in our times. 
Therefore I say that no accident, even though grave and violent, could ever 
make Milan or Naples free because their members are all corrupt. This one 
may see after the death of Filippo Visconti, for although Milan wished to 
turn to freedom, it could not and did not know how to maintain it. 3 So it 
was to Rome’s great happiness that those kings became corrupt quickly, so 
that they were driven out before their corruption passed into the bowels of 
that city. This lack of corruption—men having a good end—was the cause 
that the infinite tumults in Rome did not hurt and indeed helped the 

[3] One can draw this conclusion: that where the matter is not corrupt, 
tumults and other scandals do not hurt; where it is corrupt, well-ordered 
laws do not help unless indeed they have been put in motion by one 
individual who with an extreme force ensures their observance so that the 
matter becomes good. I do not know whether this has ever occurred or 
whether it is possible; for it is seen, as I said a little above, that if a city that 
has fallen into decline through corruption of matter ever happens to rise, it 
happens through the virtue of one man who is alive then, not through the 
virtue of the collectivity that sustains good orders. As soon as such a one is 
dead, it returns to its early habit, as occurred in Thebes, which could hold 
the forms of a republic and its empire through the virtue of Epaminondas 
while he lived, but returned to its first disorders when he was dead. 4 The 
cause is that there cannot be one man of such long life as to have enough 
time to inure to good a city that has been inured to bad for a long time. If 
one individual of very long life or two virtuous ones continued in succession 
do not arrange it, when they are lacking—as was said above—it is ruined, 
unless indeed he makes it be reborn with many dangers and much blood. 
For such corruption and slight aptitude for free life arise from an inequality 
that is in that city; and if one wishes to make it equal, it is necessary to use 
the greatest extraordinary means, which few know how or wish to use, as 
will be told in another place more particularly. 5 


« 18 ?* 

In What Mode a Free State, If There Is 
One, Can Be Maintained in Corrupt 
Cities; or, If There Is Not, in What Mode 

to Order It 

[1] I believe it is not beyond the purpose of nor does it fail to conform to 
the discourse written above to consider whether in a corrupt city one can 
maintain a free state, if there is one, or, if it has not been there, whether 
one can order it. On this thing I say that it is very difficult to do either the 
one or the other; and although it is almost impossible to give a rule for it, 
because it would be necessary to proceed according to the degrees of 
corruption, nonetheless, since it is good to reason about everything, I do not 
wish to omit this. I shall presuppose a very corrupt city, by which I shall the 
more increase such a difficulty, for neither laws nor orders can be found that 
are enough to check a universal corruption. For as good customs have need 
of laws to maintain themselves, so laws have need of good customs so as to 
be observed. Besides this, orders and laws made in a republic at its birth, 
when men were good, are no longer to the purpose later, when they have 
become wicked. If laws vary according to the accidents in a city, its orders 
never vary, or rarely; this makes new laws insufficient because the orders, 
which remain fixed, corrupt them. 

[2] To make this part better understood, I say that in Rome there was the 
order of the government, or truly of the state, and afterward the laws, which 
together with the magistrates checked the citizens. The order of the state 
was the authority of the people, of the Senate, of the tribunes, of the 
consuls; the mode of soliciting and creating the magistrates; and the mode 
of making the laws. These orders varied hardly or not at all in accidents. 
The laws that checked the citizens varied—such as the law on adulteries, 1 
the sumptuary [law], 2 that on ambition, 3 and many others—as the citizens 
little by little became corrupt. But by holding steady the orders of the state, 


which in corruption were no longer good, the laws that were renewed were 
no longer enough to keep men good; but they would indeed have helped if 
the orders had been changed together with the innovation in laws. 

[3] That it is true that such orders in the corrupt city were not good one sees 
plainly under two principal heads: creating the magistrates and the laws. 
The Roman people did not give the consulate and the other first ranks of the 
city except to those who asked for it. This order was good in the beginning 
because only those citizens who judged themselves worthy asked for them, 
and to suffer rejection was ignominious; so, to be judged worthy, each one 
worked well. This mode later became very pernicious in the corrupt city 
because not those who had more virtue but those who had more power 
asked for the magistracies, and the impotent, even though virtuous, 
abstained from asking for them out of fear. They came to this 
inconvenience not at a stroke but by degrees, as happens with all other 
inconveniences; for after the Romans had subdued Africa and Asia and had 
reduced almost all Greece to obedience, they became secure in their 
freedom, as it did not appear to them that they had any more enemies who 
ought to give them fear. This security and this weakness of their enemies 
made the Roman people no longer regard virtue but favor in bestowing the 
consulate, lifting to that rank those who knew better how to entertain men 
rather than those who knew better how to conquer enemies. Afterward, 
from those who had more favor, they descended to giving it to those who 
had more power; so, through the defect in such an order, the good remained 
altogether excluded. A tribune, or any other citizen whatever, could propose 
a law to the people, on which every citizen was able to speak, either in favor 
or against, before it was decided. This was a good order when the citizens 
were good, because it was always good that each one who intended a good 
for the public could propose it; and it is good that each can speak his 
opinion on it so that the people can then choose the best after each one has 
been heard. But when the citizens have become bad, such an order becomes 
the worst, for only the powerful propose laws, not for the common freedom 
but for their own power; and for fear of them nobody can speak against 
them. So the people came to be either deceived or forced to decide its own 

[4] If Rome wished to maintain itself free in corruption, therefore, it was 
necessary that it should have made new orders, as in the course of its life it 
had made new laws. For one should order different orders and modes of life 
in a bad subject and in a good one; nor can there be a similar form in a 


matter altogether contrary. But because these orders have to be renewed 
either all at a stroke, when they are discovered to be no longer good, or little 
by little, before they are recognized by everyone, I say that both of these two 
things are almost impossible. For if one wishes to renew them little by little, 
the cause of it must be someone prudent who sees this inconvenience from 
very far away and when it arises. It is a very easy thing for not one of these 
[men] ever to emerge in a city, and if indeed one does emerge, that he never 
be able to persuade anyone else of what he himself understands. For men 
used to living in one mode do not wish to vary it, and so much the more 
when they do not look the evil in its face but have to have it shown to them 
by conjecture. As to innovating these orders at a stroke, when everyone 
knows that they are not good, I say that the uselessness, which is easily 
recognized, is difficult to correct. For to do this, it is not enough to use 
ordinary terms, since the ordinary modes are bad; but it is necessary to go 
to the extraordinary, such as violence and arms, and before everything else 
become prince of that city, able to dispose it in one’s own mode. Because 
the reordering of a city for a political way of life presupposes a good man, 
and becoming prince of a republic by violence presupposes a bad man, one 
will find that it very rarely happens that someone good wishes to become 
prince by bad ways, even though his end be good, and that someone wicked, 
having become prince, wishes to work well, and that it will ever occur to his 
mind to use well the authority that he has acquired badly. 

[5] From all the things written above arises the difficulty, or the 
impossibility, of maintaining a republic in corrupt cities or of creating it 
anew. If indeed one had to create or maintain one there, it would be 
necessary to turn it more toward a kingly state than toward a popular state, 
so that the men who cannot be corrected by the laws because of their 
insolence should be checked in some mode by an almost kingly power. To 
wish to make them become good by other ways would be either a very cruel 
enterprise or altogether impossible, such as I said above that Cleomenes 
did. 4 If he killed the ephors so as to be alone, and if Romulus for the same 
causes killed his brother and Titus Tatius the Sabine and then used their 
authority well, nonetheless one should take note that neither one of them 
had a subject stained with the corruption that we have been reasoning about 
in this chapter, and so they were able to wish, and, in wishing, to give color 
to their plan. 


tfl9 ft 

After an Excellent Prince a Weak Prince 
Can Maintain Himself, but after a Weak 
One No Kingdom Can Be Maintained by 

Another Weak One 

[1] Having considered the virtue and the mode of proceeding of Romulus, 
Numa, and Tullus, the first three Roman kings, one sees that Rome chanced 
upon very great fortune when it had the first king very fierce and bellicose, 
the next quiet and religious, the third similar in ferocity to Romulus and 
more a lover of war than of peace. For in Rome it was necessary that in its 
first beginnings an orderer of a civil way of life emerge, but it was indeed 
then necessary that the other kings take up again the virtue of Romulus; 
otherwise that city would have become effeminate and the prey of its 
neighbors. Hence one can note that a successor of not so much virtue as the 
first can maintain a state through the virtue of him who set it straight and 
can enjoy the labors of the first. But if it happens either that he has a long 
life or that after him another does not emerge to resume the virtue of the 
first, the kingdom of necessity comes to ruin. So, on the contrary, if two, 
one after the other, are of great virtue, one often sees that they do very great 
things and that with fame they rise up to heaven. 

[2] David was without doubt a man very excellent in arms, in learning, in 
judgment; and so much was his virtue that when he had conquered and 
beaten all his neighbors, he left to his son Solomon a peaceful kingdom, 
which he was able to preserve with the art of peace and not with war; and 
he was able to enjoy happily the virtue of his father. But indeed he could 
not leave it to his son Rehoboam, who had to labor to be heir to a sixth part 
of the kingdom, since he was not like his grandfather in virtue nor like his 
father in fortune. 1 As he was more a lover of peace than of war, Bajazet, 
sultan of the Turks, was able to enjoy the labors of his father Mahomet, 
who, having like David beaten his neighbors, left him a steady kingdom and 


one that he could easily preserve with the art of peace. If his son Selim, the 
present lord, had been like his father and not his grandfather, that kingdom 
would be ruined; but one sees that he is about to surpass the glory of his 
grandfather. I say, therefore, with these examples that after an excellent 
prince, a weak prince can maintain himself; but after a weak one, no 
kingdom can be maintained with another weak one, unless indeed it is like 
that of France, which its ancient orders maintain. Those princes are weak 
who do not rely on war. 

[3] I conclude, therefore, with this discourse: that the virtue of Romulus 
was so much that it could give space to Numa Pompilius to enable him to 
rule Rome for many years with the art of peace. But after him succeeded 
Tullus, 2 who by his ferocity regained the reputation of Romulus, and after 
whom came Ancus, 3 gifted by nature in a mode that enabled him to use 
peace and endure war. First he set out wanting to hold to the way of peace, 
but at once he recognized that his neighbors esteemed him little, judging 
him effeminate. So he thought that if he wished to maintain Rome, he 
needed to turn to war and be like Romulus, not Numa. 

[4] From this all princes who hold a state may find an example. For he who 
is like Numa will hold it or not hold it as the times or fortune turn under 
him, but he who is like Romulus, and like him comes armed with prudence 
and with arms, will hold it in every mode unless it is taken from him by an 
obstinate and excessive force. And surely one can estimate that if Rome had 
chanced upon a man for its third king who did not know how to give it back 
its reputation with arms, it would never, or only with the greatest difficulty, 
have been able to stand on its feet later or to produce the effects it 
produced. So while it lived under the kings, it bore the dangers of being 
ruined under a king either weak or malevolent. 


#?20 n 

Two Virtuous Princes in Succession 
Produce Great Effects; and That Well- 
Ordered Republics Have of Necessity 
Virtuous Successions, and So Their 
Acquisitions and Increases Are Great 

[1] After Rome had expelled the kings, 1 it lacked those dangers that, as was 
said above, 2 it must endure if either a weak or a bad king should succeed. 
For the highest command 3 was brought to the consuls, who came to that 
command not by inheritance or by deception or by violent ambition but by 
free votes, and were always most excellent men. Since Rome enjoyed their 
virtue and their fortune in one time and another, it could come to its 
ultimate greatness in as many years as it was under the kings. For it is seen 
that two virtuous princes in succession are sufficient to acquire the world, as 
were Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great. A republic should do so 
much more, as through the mode of electing it has not only two in 
succession but infinite most virtuous princes who are successors to one 
another. This virtuous succession will always exist in every well-ordered 


#?21 ft 

How Much Blame That Prince and That 
Republic Merit That Lack Their Own 


[1] Present princes and modern republics that lack their own soldiers for 
defense and offense ought to be ashamed of themselves and to think as in 
the example of Tullus, 1 that such a defect is not through a lack of men apt 
for the military but through their own fault, that they have not known how 
to make their men military. For when he succeeded to the kingdom, Tullus 
did not find a man who had ever been in war, since Rome had been at peace 
for forty years; nonetheless, when he planned to make war, he did not think 
to avail himself of either the Samnites or the Tuscans or others who were 
accustomed to being in arms. But as a very prudent man, he decided to 
avail himself of his own. So much was his virtue that in a stroke, under his 
government, he was able to make very excellent soldiers. It is more true 
than any other truth that if where there are men there are no soldiers, it 
arises through a defect of the prince and not through any other defect, 
either of the site or of nature. 

[2] Of this there is a very fresh example. For everyone knows that in the 
most recent times the king of England assaulted the kingdom of France, nor 
did he take soldiers other than his own people; and because that kingdom 
had gone more than thirty years without making war, he had neither 
soldiers nor captain who had ever served in the military. 2 Nonetheless he 
did not hesitate to assault with these a kingdom full of captains and good 
armies that had been continually under arms in the wars in Italy. It all arose 
from that king’s being a prudent man and that kingdom well ordered, which 
did not interrupt the orders of war in time of peace. 

[3] After the Thebans Pelopidas and Epaminondas had freed Thebes and 
had brought it out of the servitude of the Spartan empire, though they found 
themselves in a city used to serving and in the midst of effeminate peoples, 
they did not hesitate—so much was their virtue—to put them under arms, 


and to go with them to meet the Spartan armies in the field, and to conquer 
them. He who writes of it 3 says that in a short time these two showed that 
men of war are born not only in Lacedemon but in every other place where 
men are born, provided that there may be found one who knows how to 
direct them to the military, as one sees that Tullus knew how to direct the 
Romans. Virgil could not have expressed this opinion better, nor shown 
with other words that he took its side, than when he says: 

And Tullus will move indolent men to arms. 4 


#?22 n 

What Is to Be Noted in the Case of the 
Three Roman Horatii and the Three Alban 


[1] Tullus, king of Rome, and Mettius, king of Alba, agreed that that people 
would be the lord over the other whose three men, written above, should 
win. All the Alban Curiatii were killed, one of the Roman Horatii was left 
alive; and because of this Mettius, the Alban king, with his people, was left 
subject to the Romans. When that Horatius was returning the victor to 
Rome, he met a sister of his who had been betrothed to one of the three 
dead Curiatii, and as she wept for the death of her betrothed, he killed her. 
Hence that Horatius was put under judgment for the fault and after many 
disputes was freed, more because of his father’s prayers than for his own 
merits. 1 Three things are to be noted here: one, that one should never risk 
all one’s fortune with part of one’s forces; the next, that in a well-ordered 
city, faults are never paid for with merits; third, that policies are never wise 
if one should or can doubt their observance. For being servile is so 
important to a city that one ought never to believe that any of those kings or 
those peoples would be content that three of their citizens had put them 
into subjection, as may be seen in what Mettius wished to do. Although he 
at once confessed himself conquered after the victory of the Romans and 
promised obedience to Tullus, nonetheless in the first expedition that they 
had to gather against the Veientes, it may be seen how he sought to deceive 
him, as one who had become aware late of the rashness of the policy he had 
taken up. 2 Because enough has been spoken about this third notable thing, 
we shall speak only of the other two in the following two chapters. 


«23 ft 

That One Should Not Put All One’s 
Fortune in Danger, and Not All One’s 
Forces; and Because of This, the Guarding 
of Passes Is Often Harmful 

[1] It has never been judged a wise policy to put all your fortune in danger 
and not all your forces. This is done in many modes. One is doing as Tullus 
and Mettius did when they committed all the fortune of their fatherland and 
the virtue of as many men as both of them had in their armies to the virtue 
and fortune of three of their citizens, who amounted to a minimal part of 
the forces of each of them. Nor were they aware that by this policy all the 
labor that their predecessors had endured in ordering the republic, to make 
it live free for a long while and to make its citizens defenders of their 
freedom, was almost as if in vain, since it was in the power of so few to lose 
it. This affair could not have been worse considered by those kings. 

[2] This inconvenience is also brought on almost always through those who, 
when they see the enemy, plan to hold difficult places and to guard passes. 
For almost always this decision will be harmful unless indeed you can 
conveniently keep all your forces in that difficult place. In this case such a 
policy is to be taken, but if the place is harsh and one cannot keep all the 
forces there, the policy is harmful. This makes me judge thus the example 
of those who, having been assaulted by a powerful enemy, and having their 
country surrounded by mountains and mountainous places, have never 
attempted to fight the enemy in the passes and in the mountains but have 
gone to meet it on the other side; or, when they have not wished to do this, 
they have waited on the inner side of the mountains in benign, not 
mountainous, places. The cause has been the one cited before: one cannot 
lead many men to the guarding of mountainous places, whether because 
they cannot live there a long time or because the places are so narrow and 
have capacity for so few that it is not possible to withstand an enemy who 
comes in a mass to strike you. It is easy for the enemy to come in a mass 


because his intention is to pass through and not to stop; and it is impossible 
for him who waits to wait for it in a mass since one has to encamp for a 
long time, not knowing when the enemy wishes to pass through places that 
are, as I said, narrow and barren. Thus when you lose the pass that you had 
presupposed you would hold, and in which your people and your army 
trusted, most often such terror enters into the people and the remainder of 
your troops that you are left a loser without being able to try out their 
virtue. So you have come to lose all your fortune with part of your forces. 

[3] Everyone knows with how much difficulty Hannibal crossed the 
mountains that divide Lombardy from France 1 and with how much 
difficulty he crossed those that divide Lombardy from Tuscany; 2 
nonetheless, the Romans waited for him first on the Ticino 3 and then on the 
plain of Arezzo. 4 They preferred that their army be eaten up by the enemy 
in places where it was able to win rather than leading it into the mountains 
to be destroyed by the malignity of the site. 

[4] He who reads all the histories judiciously will find very few virtuous 
captains who have tried to hold such passes, both for the reasons given and 
because they cannot all be closed, since the mountains are like the 
countryside and have not only customary and frequented ways but many 
others that, if they are not known to foreigners, are known to the peasants 
with whose aid you will always be led to any place whatever against the 
wish of whoever opposes you. One can bring up a very fresh example of this 
in 1515. When Francis, king of France, planned to come into Italy for the 
recovery of the state of Lombardy, the greatest foundation that those who 
were contrary to his enterprise relied on was that the Swiss would hold him 
at the passes on the mountains. As was seen later by experience, that 
foundation of theirs was in vain; for leaving aside two or three places 
guarded by them, the king came over by another, unknown way and was in 
Italy and upon them before they had a presentiment of him. So they retired, 
terrified, into Milan, and all the peoples of Lombardy took the side of the 
French troops, having been disappointed in the opinion they had that the 
French were to be held back in the mountains. 5 


«24 M 

Well-Ordered Republics Institute Rewards 
and Punishments for Their Citizens and 
Never Counterbalance One with the Other 

[1] The merits of Horatius were very great, since with his virtue he had 
conquered the Curiatii; his fault was atrocious, since he had killed his sister. 
Nonetheless, such a homicide so greatly displeased the Romans that they 
brought him to trial 1 for his life, notwithstanding that his merits were so 
great and so fresh. To whoever considers it superficially, such a thing would 
appear an example of popular ingratitude; nonetheless, whoever examines it 
better and inquires with better consideration what the orders of republics 
should be will blame that people rather for having absolved him than for 
having wished to condemn him. The reason is this: that no well-ordered 
republic ever cancels the demerits with the merits of its citizens; but, having 
ordered rewards for a good work and punishments for a bad one, and having 
rewarded one for having worked well, if that same one later works badly, it 
punishes him without any regard for his good works. When these orders are 
well observed, a city lives free for a long time; otherwise it will always come 
to ruin soon. For if a citizen has done some outstanding work for the city, 
and on top of the reputation that this thing brings him, he has an audacity 
and confidence that he can do some work that is not good without fearing 
punishment, in a short time he will become so insolent that any civility will 
be dissolved. 

[2] If one wishes the punishment for malevolent works to be kept up, it is 
indeed 2 necessary to observe the giving of rewards for good ones, as it was 
seen Rome did. Although a republic may be poor and able to give little, it 
should not abstain from that little; for every small gift given to anyone, in 
recompense for a good however great, will always be esteemed by him who 
receives it as honorable and very great. The history of Horatius Coclus is 
very well known, 2 and that of Mucius Scaevola: 3 as the one held back the 
enemy at the bridge until it was cut, the other burned his own hand that had 


erred when it tried to kill Porsenna, king of the Tuscans. For these two such 
outstanding works, two staiora of land were given by the public to each of 
them. 4 The history of Manlius Capitolinus is also known. For having saved 
the Capitol from the French who were encamped there, he was given a 
small measure of flour by those who were besieged inside with him. 5 That 
reward was great, according to the fortune then current in Rome, and of 
such quality that when Manlius was moved later by his envy or by his 
wicked nature to arouse sedition in Rome, and sought to gain the people for 
himself, he was without any respect for his merits thrown headlong from the 

Capitol that before, with so much glory for himself, he had saved. 6 


«25 M 

He Who Wishes to Reform an Antiquated 
State in a Free City May Retain at Least 
the Shadow of Its Ancient Modes 

[1] If someone who desires or who wishes to reform a state in a city wishes 
it to be accepted and capable of being maintained to the satisfaction of 
everyone, he is under the necessity of retaining at least the shadow of its 
ancient modes so that it may not appear to the peoples to have changed its 
order even if in fact the new orders are altogether alien to the past ones. For 
the generality of men feed on what appears as much as on what is; indeed, 
many times they are moved more by things that appear than by things that 
are. For this cause, recognizing this necessity at the beginning of their free 
way of life and having created two consuls in exchange for one king, the 
Romans did not wish to have more than twelve lictors, so as not to surpass 
the number of those who ministered to the kings. 1 Besides this, since an 
annual sacrifice was offered in Rome that could not be done except by the 
king in person, and since the Romans wished the people not to have to 
desire anything ancient because of the absence of the kings, they created a 
head of said sacrifice, whom they called the sacrificing king, and 
subordinated him to the highest priest, so that by this way the people came 
to be satisfied with the sacrifice and never to have cause, for lack of it, to 
desire the return of the kings. 2 This should be observed by all those who 
wish to suppress an ancient way of life in a city and to turn it to a new and 
free way of life, for since the new things alter the minds of men, you should 
contrive that those alterations retain as much of the ancient as possible. If 
the magistrates vary from the ancient ones in number and authority and 
time, they should at least retain the name. This, as I said, he should observe 
who wishes to order a political way of life by the way either of republic or 
of kingdom; but he who wishes to make an absolute power, which is called 
tyranny by the authors, 3 should renew everything, as will be told in the 
following chapter. 




A New Prince Should Make Everything 
New in a City or Province Taken by Him 

[1] The best remedy whoever becomes prince of either a city or a state has 
for holding that principality is to make everything in that state anew, since 
he is a new prince, and so much the more when his foundations are weak 
and he may not turn to civil life by way either of kingdom or of republic: 
that is, to make in cities new governments with new names, new authorities, 
new men; to make the rich poor, the poor rich, as did David when he 
became king—’’who filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich 
away empty”; 1 besides this, to build new cities, to take down those built, to 
exchange the inhabitants from one place to another; and, in sum, not to 
leave anything untouched in that province, so that there is no rank, no 
order, no state, no wealth there that he who holds it does not know it as 
from you; and to take as one’s model Philip of Macedon, father of 
Alexander, who from a small king became prince of Greece with these 
modes. He who writes of him says that he transferred men from province to 
province as herdsmen transfer their herds. 2 These modes are very cruel, and 
enemies to every way of life, not only Christian but human; and any man 
whatever should flee them and wish to live in private rather than as king 
with so much ruin to men. Nonetheless, he who does not wish to take this 
first way of the good must enter into this evil one if he wishes to maintain 
himself. But men take certain middle ways that are very harmful, for they 
do not know how to be either altogether wicked or altogether good, as will 
be shown by example in the following chapter. 


«27 M 

Very Rarely Do Men Know How to Be 
Altogether Wicked or Altogether Good 

[1] When Pope Julius II went to Bologna in 1505 to expel from that state 
the house of Bentivogli, which had held the principate 1 of the city for a 
hundred years, he also wished—as one who had taken an oath 2 against all 
the tyrants who seized towns of the church—to remove Giovampagolo 
Baglioni, tyrant of Perugia. Having arrived near Perugia, with this intent 
and decision known to everyone, he did not wait to enter that city with his 
army, which was guarding him, but entered it unarmed, notwithstanding 
that Giovampagolo was inside with many troops that he had gathered for 
defense of himself. So, carried along by that fury with which he governed all 
things, he put himself with a single guard in the hands of his enemy, whom 
he then led away with him, leaving a governor in the city who would render 
justice 3 for the church. The rashness of the pope and the cowardice of 
Giovampagolo were noted by the prudent men who were with the pope, 4 
and they were unable to guess whence it came that he did not, to his 
perpetual fame, crush his enemy at a stroke and enrich himself with booty, 
since with the pope were all the cardinals with all their delights. Nor could 
one believe that he had abstained either through goodness or through 
conscience that held him back; for into the breast of a villainous man, who 
was taking his sister for himself, who had killed his cousins and nephews so 
as to reign, no pious respect could descend. But it was concluded that it 
arose from men’s not knowing how to be honorably wicked or perfectly 
good; and when malice has greatness in itself or is generous in some part, 
they do not know how to enter into it. 

[2] So Giovampagolo, who did not mind being incestuous and a public 
parricide, did not know how—or, to say better, did not dare, when he had 
just the opportunity for it—to engage in an enterprise in which everyone 
would have admired his spirit and that would have left an eternal memory 
of himself as being the first who had demonstrated to the prelates how little 
is to be esteemed whoever lives and reigns as they do; and he would have 


done a thing whose greatness would have surpassed all infamy, every danger, 
that could have proceeded from it. 



For What Cause the Romans Were Less 
Ungrateful toward Their Citizens Than the 


[1] Whoever reads of the things done by republics will find in all of them 
some species of ingratitude toward their citizens; but he will find less of it 
in Rome than in Athens, and perhaps than in any other republic. 1 Searching 
for the cause of this, speaking of Rome and Athens, I believe it happened 
because the Romans had less cause than the Athenians for suspecting their 
citizens. For in Rome, as one reasons about it from the expulsion of the 
kings until Sulla and Marius, freedom was never taken away by any of its 
citizens, so that there was no great cause for suspecting them and, in 
consequence, for offending them inconsiderately. The very contrary 
happened in Athens when freedom had been taken away from it by 
Pisistratus in its most flourishing time and under a deception of goodness, 
for as soon as it became free and recalled the injuries received and its past 
servitude, it became a very prompt avenger not only of the errors but of the 
shadow of errors in its citizens. Hence arose the exiles and the deaths of so 
many excellent men; hence the order of ostracism and every other violence 
that was done against its aristocrats in various times by that city. What these 
writers on civility say is very true: that peoples bite more fiercely after they 
have recovered their freedom than after they have saved it. 2 Whoever 
considers, then, how much has been said will neither blame Athens in this 
nor praise Rome, but will accuse only necessity because of the diversity of 
accidents that arose in these cities. For whoever considers things subtly will 
see for himself that if freedom had been taken away in Rome as in Athens, 
Rome would not have been more merciful toward its citizens than the latter 
was. One can make a very true conjecture about this because of what 
happened to Collatinus 3 and Publius Valerius 4 after the expulsion of the 
kings. The first of them was sent into exile for no cause other than that he 
bore the name of the Tarquins, even though he had been found to have freed 


Rome; the other was also on the point of being made an exile only for 
having given suspicion of himself by building a house on the Caelian Hill. 
So, seeing how far Rome was suspicious and severe with these two, one can 
reckon that it would have made use of ingratitude as had Athens if, like the 
latter, it had been injured by its citizens in early times and before its 
increase. So as not to have to return to this matter of ingratitude, I shall say 
what will be needed about it in the following chapter. 


«29 M 

Which Is More Ungrateful, a People or a 


[1] It appears to me, with regard to the matter written about above, that one 
should discourse on which practices this ingratitude in greater examples, a 
people or a prince. To dispute the case better, I say that this vice of 
ingratitude arises either from avarice or from suspicion. 1 For when either a 
people or a prince has sent out one of its captains on an important 
expedition, from which that captain will have acquired very much glory if 
he should win, that prince or that people is held to the bargain of rewarding 
him. If, instead of rewards, he either dishonors or offends him, moved by 
avarice and not wishing to satisfy him since he is held back by this greed, he 
makes an error that has no excuse but rather brings with it an eternal 
infamy. Yet one finds many princes who sin in this way. And Cornelius 
Tacitus tells the cause in this sentence: “One is more inclined to make 
return for an injury than for a benefit, because gratitude is held to be a 
burden and revenge a gain.” 2 But when he does not reward him—or, to say 
better, offends him—moved not by avarice but by suspicion, then he merits 
—both the people and the prince—some excuse. Of these acts of 
ingratitude, used for such a cause, one reads very much: for the captain who 
has virtuously acquired an empire for his lord, overcoming enemies and 
filling himself with glory and his soldiers with riches, of necessity acquires 
such reputation with his soldiers, with enemies, and with the subjects 
belonging to that prince that the victory cannot taste good to the lord who 
has sent him. Because the nature of men is ambitious and suspicious and 
does not know how to set a limit 3 to any fortune it may have, it is 
impossible for the suspicion suddenly arising in the prince after the victory 
of his captain not to be increased by that same one because of some mode 
or term of his used insolently. So the prince cannot but think of securing 
himself against him; and to do this, he thinks either of having him killed or 
of taking away the reputation that he has gained for himself in his army or 
in his peoples, and with all industry shows that the victory arose not through 


the virtue of that one but through fortune, or through the cowardice of the 
enemies, or through the prudence of the other heads that had been with him 
in such a struggle. 

[2] After Vespasian, then in Judea, was declared emperor by his army, 
Antonius Primus, who was in Illyria with another army, took his part and 
came into Italy against Vitellius, who was reigning in Rome, and most 
virtuously destroyed two armies of Vitellius and seized Rome. So Mucianus, 
sent by Vespasian, found that through the virtue of Antonius, all had been 
acquired and every difficulty conquered. The reward that Antonius received 
for it was that Mucianus at once took away the obedience of the army and 
little by little reduced him to being without any authority in Rome. So 
Antonius went to meet Vespasian, still in Asia, by whom he was so received 
that in a brief time, reduced to no rank, he died almost in despair. 4 
Histories are full of these examples. In our times, everyone who lives at 
present knows with how much industry and virtue Gonsalvo Ferrante, 
serving in the military against the French in the kingdom of Naples for 
Ferdinand, king of Aragon, conquered and overcame that kingdom; and 
how, as a reward for victory, what he got was that Ferdinand left Aragon 
and, having come to Naples, first deprived him of the obedience of the 
men-at-arms, then took the fortresses away from him, and next brought him 
back with him to Spain, where he died, dishonored, a short time later. 5 
Thus, so natural is this suspicion in princes that they cannot defend 
themselves against it; and it is impossible that they use gratitude to those 
who have made great acquisitions through victory under their banners. 

[3] It is not a miracle, nor a thing worthy of the greatest memory, if a 
people does not defend itself from what a prince does not defend himself. 
For since a city that lives free has two ends—one to acquire, the other to 
maintain itself free—it must be that in one thing or the other it errs through 
too much love. As to errors in acquiring, they will be told in their place. 6 As 
to errors in maintaining itself free, there are these among others: to offend 
those citizens whom it ought to reward; to have suspicion of those in whom 
it ought to have confidence. Although these modes are the cause of great 
evils in a republic that has come into corruption, and often it comes all the 
sooner to tyranny—as happened to the Rome of Caesar, 7 who took for 
himself by force what ingratitude denied him—nonetheless in a republic 
that is not corrupt they are the cause of great goods and make it live free, 
since men are kept better and less ambitious longer through fear of 
punishment. It is true that among all the peoples that ever had empire, for 


the causes discoursed of above,' Rome was the least ungrateful. For one can 
say of its ingratitude that there was no example other than that of Scipio, 9 
because Coriolanus 10 and Camillus 11 were made exiles for the injuries that 
both had done to the plebs. The one was not pardoned because he had 
always reserved a hostile spirit against the people; the other was not only 
recalled but at all times of his life adored as a prince. But the ingratitude 
used to Scipio arose from a suspicion that the citizens were beginning to 
have of him that had not been held of the others, which arose from the 
greatness of the enemy that Scipio had overcome, 12 from the reputation 
that victory in so long and dangerous a war had given him, from its rapidity, 
and from the favor that his youth, prudence, and other memorable virtues 
acquired for him. These things were so great that none other than the 
magistrates of Rome feared his authority, a thing that displeased wise men 
as something unaccustomed in Rome. His way of life appeared so 
extraordinary that Cato Priscus, reputed holy, was the first to act against 
him and to say that a city could not call itself free where there was a citizen 
who was feared by the magistrates. So if the people of Rome followed the 
opinion of Cato in this case, it merits the excuse that, as I said above, those 
peoples and those princes merit who are ungrateful through suspicion. Thus 
concluding this discourse, I say that since this vice of ingratitude is used 
through avarice or through suspicion, one will see that peoples never make 
use of it through avarice, and very much less through suspicion than 
princes, having less cause to suspect, as will be said below. 


«30 ft 

Which Modes a Prince or a Republic 
Should Use So As to Avoid the Vice of 
Ingratitude; and Which a Captain or a 
Citizen Should Use So As Not to Be 

Crushed by It 

[1] So as to avoid the necessity either of having to live with suspicion, or of 
being ungrateful, a prince should go personally on expeditions, as the 
Roman emperors did in the beginning, as the Turk does in our times, and as 
those who are virtuous have done and do. For if they win, the glory and the 
acquisition are all theirs; and when they are not present, since the glory is 
someone else’s, it does not appear to them that they can make use of the 
acquisition unless they eliminate in someone else the glory that they have 
not known how to gain for themselves. They become ungrateful and unjust, 
and without doubt their loss is greater than the gain. But when through 
either negligence or lack of prudence they remain idly at home and send a 
captain, I have no precept to give them other than the one they know for 
themselves. But I do say to that captain, since I judge that he cannot avoid 
the bites of ingratitude, that he may do one of two things: either leave the 
army at once after the victory and put himself in the hands of his prince, 
guarding himself against every insolent or ambitious act, so that the latter, 
deprived of every suspicion, may have cause either to reward him or not to 
offend him; or, when this does not appear to him proper to do, he may 
spiritedly take the contrary part and hold to all those modes through which 
he believes that that acquisition may be his own and not his prince’s, 
making the soldiers and the subjects well disposed to him. He may make 
new friendships with neighbors, seize fortresses with his men, corrupt the 
princes of his army, and secure himself against those he cannot corrupt; and 
through these modes seek to punish his lord for the ingratitude that he 
would have used to him. There are no other ways, but, as was said above, 


men do not know how to be either altogether bad or altogether good. 1 It 
always happens that they do not wish to leave the army at once after victory, 
that they are unable to behave modestly, that they do not know how to use 
violent measures that have something honorable in them. So, remaining 
ambiguous, they are crushed between their delay and ambiguity. 

[2] To a republic wishing to avoid this vice of the ungrateful, one cannot 
give the same remedy as to the prince—that is, to go and not send someone 
else on his expeditions—since it is under a necessity to send one of its 
citizens. It is fitting, therefore, that I propose as remedy that it follow the 
same modes the Roman republic followed so as to be less ungrateful than 
the others. This arose from the modes of its government. For since the 
whole city—both the nobles and the ignobles—was put to work in war, so 
many virtuous men emerged in every age, decorated from various victories, 
that the people did not have cause to fear any one of them, since they were 
very many and guarded one another. They kept themselves so upright, and 
so hesitant to cast a shadow of any ambition or give cause to the people to 
offend them for being ambitious, that when one came to the dictatorship he 
carried away from it the greater glory the sooner he laid it down. And so, 
since modes such as these could not generate suspicion, they did not 
generate ingratitude. So a republic that does not wish to have cause to be 
ungrateful should govern itself as did Rome; and a citizen who wishes to 
avoid its bites should observe the limits observed by Roman citizens. 


«31 ft 

That the Roman Captains Were Never 
Extraordinarily Punished for an Error 
Committed; nor Were They Ever Punished 
When Harm Resulted to the Republic 
through Their Ignorance or through Bad 
Policies Adopted by Them 

[1] The Romans, as we have discoursed of above, not only were less 
ungrateful than other republics but also were more merciful and more 
hesitant in the punishment of the captains of their armies than any other. 1 
For if his error had been made through malice, they punished him 
humanely; if it was through ignorance, not only did they not punish him, 
they rewarded and honored him. This mode of proceeding was well 
considered by them; for they judged that it was of such importance to those 
who governed their armies that they have a free and ready spirit, without 
other extrinsic hesitations in making policies, that they did not wish to add 
new difficulties and dangers to a thing in itself difficult and dangerous, since 
they thought that if they added them, no one could ever work virtuously. 
They might be, for instance, sending an army into Greece against Philip of 
Macedon, or into Italy against Hannibal, or against those peoples whom 
they had conquered before. The captain who had been put in charge of such 
an expedition was worried by all the cares that go along with these affairs, 
which are grave and most important. Now if to such cares had been added 
many Roman examples of having crucified or otherwise killed those who 
had lost battles, it would have been impossible for the captain to be able to 
decide strenuously among so many suspicions. 2 Therefore, since they 
judged that for such ones the ignominy of having lost was penalty enough, 
they did not wish to terrify them with another, greater penalty. 


[2] As to an error committed not through ignorance, here is one example. 
Sergius and Virginius were in the field at Veii, each one in charge of one 
part of the army. 3 Of the two, Sergius was facing where the Tuscans could 
come, Virginius on the other side. It happened that when Sergius was 
assaulted by the Faliscians and by other peoples, he endured being defeated 
and put to flight before sending to Virginius for aid. On the other side, 
expecting him to be humiliated, Virginius preferred to see the dishonor of 
his fatherland and the ruin of the army than to help him—a case truly 
malevolent and worthy of being noted, and from which to draw not a good 
conjecture concerning the Roman republic if both had not been punished. It 
is true that whereas another republic would have punished them with the 
capital penalty, this one punished them with fines of money. This came 
about not because their sins did not merit greater punishment but because, 
for the reasons already given, the Romans in this case wished to maintain 
their ancient customs. As to errors through ignorance, there is no example 
more beautiful than that of Varro. 4 Because of his rashness the Romans 
were defeated at Cannae by Hannibal, and that republic was in danger of 
losing its freedom; nonetheless, because it was ignorance and not malice, 
not only did they not punish him but they honored him, and at his return to 
Rome the whole senatorial order went to meet him. Since they could not 
thank him for the fight, they thanked him because he returned to Rome and 
had not despaired of Roman affairs. When Papirius Cursor wished to have 
Fabius killed for having engaged in combat with the Samnites contrary to 
his command, among other reasons that were advanced by the father of 
Fabius against the obstinacy of the dictator was that the Roman people had 
never done in any loss by its captains what Papirius wished to do in their 
victories. 5 


«32 M 

A Republic or a Prince Should Not Defer 
Benefiting Men in Their Necessities 

[1] The Romans did succeed happily in being liberal to the people as danger 
came up when Porsenna came to assault Rome so as to restore the Tarquins. 
Then, fearing that the plebs would rather accept kings than sustain the war, 
the Senate relieved it of the salt tax and of every imposition so as to secure 
itself with it, saying that the poor worked well enough for the public benefit 
if they raised their children, and for this benefit the people exposed itself to 
enduring siege, hunger, and war. 1 Yet no one, trusting in this example, 
should defer winning over the people until times of danger, for what 
succeeded for the Romans will never succeed for him. For the collectivity 
will judge that it has that good not from you but from your adversaries; and 
since it ought to fear that when the necessity has passed, you will take back 
from them what you had been forced to give them, it will not have any 
obligation to you. The cause why this policy turned out well for the Romans 
was that the state was new and not yet solid; and that people had seen that 
laws had been made for its benefit, such as the one on appealing to the 
plebs, so that it could be persuaded that the good that was done was caused 
not so much by the coming of enemies as by the disposition of the Senate to 
benefit them. Besides this, the memory of the kings, by whom they had been 
vilified and injured in many modes, was fresh. Because like causes happen 
rarely, it will also occur rarely that like remedies help. So whoever holds a 
state, whether republic or prince, should consider beforehand what times 
can come up against him, and which men he can have need of in adverse 
times; and then live with them in the mode that he judges to be necessary to 
live, should any case whatever come up. The one who governs himself 
otherwise—whether prince or republic, and especially a prince—and then 
believes in the fact that, when danger comes up, he can regain men with 
benefits, deceives himself; for not only does he not secure himself with them 
but he hastens his own ruin. 



*$33 ft 

When an Inconvenience Has Grown Either 
in a State or against a State, the More 
Salutary Policy Is to Temporize with It 
Rather Than to Strike at It 

[1] As the Roman republic was growing in reputation, strength, and empire, 
its neighbors, who at first had not thought of how much harm that new 
republic could bring them, began—but late—to recognize their error; and 
wishing to remedy what they had not remedied at first, a good forty peoples 
conspired against Rome. Hence, among the other usual remedies they made 
for themselves in urgent dangers, the Romans turned to creating the dictator 
—that is, to giving power to one man who could decide without any 
consultation and execute his decisions without any appeal. 1 As that remedy 
was useful then and was the cause that they overcame the impending 
dangers, so it was always most useful in all those accidents that arose at any 
time against the republic in the increasing of the empire. 

[2] First to be discussed in regard to that accident is that when an 
inconvenience that arises either in a republic or against a republic, caused 
by an intrinsic or extrinsic cause, has become so great that it begins to bring 
fear to everyone, it is a much more secure policy to temporize with it than 
to attempt to extinguish it. For almost always those who attempt to allay it 
make its strength greater and accelerate the evil that they suspected from it 
for themselves. And accidents such as these arise in a republic more often 
through an intrinsic than an extrinsic cause. Many times a citizen is allowed 
to gather more strength than is reasonable, or one begins to corrupt a law 
that is the nerve and the life of a free way of life; and the error is allowed to 
run on so far that it is a more harmful policy to wish to remedy it than to 
allow it to continue. It is so much the more difficult to recognize these 
inconveniences when they arise as it appears more natural to men always to 
favor the beginnings of things; and more than for anything else, such favor 


can be for works that appear to have some virtue in them and have been 
done 2 by youths. For if in a republic one sees a noble youth arise who has an 
extraordinary virtue in him, all eyes of the citizens begin to turn toward him 
and agree in honoring him without any hesitation, so that if there is a bit of 
ambition in him, mixed with the favor that nature gives him and with this 
accident, he comes at once to a place where the citizens, when they become 
aware of their error, have few remedies to avoid it. If they try to work as 
many as they have, they do nothing but accelerate his power. 

[3] One could bring up very many examples of this, but I wish to give only 
one of them from our city. Cosimo de’ Medici, from whom the house of 
Medici had the beginning of its greatness in our city, came to such 
reputation with the favor that his prudence and the ignorance of the other 
citizens gave him that he began to bring fear to the state, so that the other 
citizens judged it dangerous to offend him and very dangerous to allow him 
to remain thus. But living in those times was Niccolo da Uzzano, a man 
held to be very expert in civil affairs, who had made the first error of not 
recognizing the dangers that could arise from the reputation of Cosimo. 
While he lived, he did not ever permit the second to be made—that is, of 
attempting to eliminate him—since he judged that such an attempt would 
be the entire ruin of their state, as one sees it was after his death. For as the 
citizens who were left did not observe his counsel, they made themselves 
strong against Cosimo and expelled him from Florence. Hence it came 
about that his party, resentful because of this injury, recalled him soon after 
and made him prince of the republic, to which rank he would never have 
been able to climb without that manifest opposition. 3 

[4] The same happened in Rome with Caesar; for although that virtue of his 
was favored by Pompey and by others, the favor soon after was converted to 
fear. Cicero bears witness to this in saying that Pompey had begun to fear 
Caesar late. 4 That fear made them think about remedies; and the remedies 
they made accelerated the ruin of their republic. 

[5] I say, thus, that since it is difficult to recognize these evils when they 
arise - the difficulty being caused by the fact that things are apt to deceive 
you in the beginning—it is a wiser policy to temporize with them after they 
are recognized than to oppose them; for if one temporizes with them, either 
they are eliminated by themselves or at least the evil is deferred for a longer 
time. In all things, princes who plan to cancel them or oppose their strength 
and thrust should open their eyes, so as not to give them increase instead of 


decrease, believing that they are pushing a thing back while pulling it along, 
or indeed that they are drowning a plant by watering it. But they should 
consider well the strength of the malady, and if you see you have enough to 
cure it, set yourself at it without hesitation; otherwise let it be and do not 
attempt it in any mode. For, as was discoursed of above, it will happen as it 
happened to Rome’s neighbors, for whom, since Rome had grown to so 
much power, it was more salutary to seek to appease it and to hold it back 
with the modes of peace than to make them think about new orders and 
new defenses with the modes of war. For that conspiracy of theirs did 
nothing but make [the Romans] more united, more vigorous, and make 
them think about new modes, through which they expanded their power in a 
briefer time. Among them was the creation of the dictator, a new order 
through which they not only overcame impending dangers but that was the 
cause of avoiding infinite evils that the republic would have incurred 
without that remedy. 


«34 M 

The Dictatorial Authority Did Good, and 
Not Harm, to the Roman Republic; and 
That the Authorities Citizens Take for 
Themselves, Not Those Given Them by 
Free Votes, Are Pernicious to Civil Life 

[1] The Romans who invented in that city the mode of creating the 
dictator 1 have been condemned by some writer 2 for a thing that was the 
cause, in time, of the tyranny of Rome. He cites the fact that the first tyrant 3 
in that city commanded it under the dictatorial title; he says that if it had 
not been for this, Caesar would not have been able to put an honest face on 
his tyranny under any public title. This thing was not well examined by the 
one who holds the opinion, and it was believed against all reason. For it was 
neither the name nor the rank of dictator that made Rome servile, but it 
was the authority taken by citizens because of the length of command. If the 
dictatorial name had been lacking in Rome, they would have taken another; 
for it is forces that easily acquire names, not names forces. One sees that 
while the dictator was appointed according to public orders, and not by his 
own authority, he always did good to the city. For magistrates that are made 
and authorities that are given through extraordinary ways, not those that 
come through ordinary ways, hurt republics; so one sees that in Rome the 
result was that in so much course of time no dictator ever did anything but 
good to the republic. 

[2] There are very evident reasons for this. First, if a citizen wishes to be 
able to offend and to seize extraordinary authority for himself, he must have 
many qualities that in a noncorrupt republic he can never have. For he 
needs to be very rich and to have very many adherents and partisans, which 
he cannot have where the laws are observed; and even if he had them, men 
like these are so formidable that free votes do not concur in them. Besides 
this, the dictator was appointed for a time, and not perpetually, and so as to 


obviate only the cause by means of which he was created; and his authority 
extended to being able to decide by himself regarding remedies for that 
urgent danger, and to do everything without consultation, and to punish 
everyone without appeal. 4 But he could not do anything that might diminish 
the state, as taking away authority from the Senate or from the people, 
undoing the old orders of the city and making new ones, would have been. 
So, when the brief time of his dictatorship, the limited authorities he had, 
and the noncorrupt Roman people are added up, it was impossible for him 
to escape his limits and to hurt the city; and one sees by experience that he 
always helped. 

[3] And truly, among the other Roman orders, this is one that deserves to be 
considered and numbered among those that were the cause of the greatness 
of so great an empire, for without such an order cities escape from 
extraordinary accidents with difficulty. Because the customary orders in 
republics have a slow motion (since no council and no magistrate can work 
anything by itself, but in many things one has need of another, and because 
it takes time to add these wills together), their remedies are very dangerous 
when they have to remedy a thing that time does not wait for. So republics 
should have a like mode among their orders; and the Venetian republic, 
which is excellent among modern republics, has reserved authority to a few 
citizens who in urgent needs can decide, all in accord, without further 
consultation. 5 For when a like mode is lacking in a republic, it is necessary 
either that it be ruined by observing the orders or that it break them so as 
not to be ruined. In a republic, one would not wish anything ever to happen 
that has to be governed with extraordinary modes. For although the 
extraordinary mode may do good then, nonetheless the example does ill; for 
if one sets up a habit of breaking the orders for the sake of good, then later, 
under that coloring, they are broken for ill. So a republic will never be 
perfect unless it has provided for everything with its laws and has 
established a remedy for every accident and given the mode to govern it. So, 
concluding, I say that those republics that in urgent dangers do not take 
refuge either in the dictator or in similar authorities will always come to 
ruin in grave accidents. 

[4] In this new order the mode of electing is to be noted, as it was wisely 
provided by the Romans. For since the creation of the dictator brought 
some shame for the consuls, who as heads of the city had to come under 
obedience like others, and since they supposed that disdain among the 
citizens had to arise from this, they wished the authority of electing him to 


be in the consuls. They thought that if an accident came in which Rome 
might have need of this kingly power, they would have to make him 
voluntarily; and in making him themselves, it would pain them less. For 
wounds and every other ill that a man does to himself spontaneously and by 
choice hurt much less than those that are done to you by someone else. 
Indeed, in the last times the Romans used to give such authority to the 
consul instead of to the dictator with these words: “Let the consul see that 
the republic comes to no harm.” 6 To return to our matter, I conclude that by 
seeking to crush them, Rome’s neighbors made them order themselves not 
only to be able to defend themselves but able to attack them with more 
force, more counsel, and more authority. 

«35 ft 

The Cause Why the Creation of the 
Decemvirate in Rome Was Hurtful to the 
Freedom of That Republic, 
Notwithstanding That It Was Created by 
Public and Free Votes 

[1] The election of the ten citizens created by the Roman people to make 
the laws in Rome 1 appears contrary to what was discoursed of above, that 
the authority that is seized by violence, not that given by votes, harms 
republics. 2 In time they became tyrants of Rome and without any hesitation 
seized its freedom. Hence one should consider the modes of giving authority 
and the time for which it is given. If a free authority is given for a long time 
—calling a long time one year or more—it will always be dangerous and 
will have either good or bad effects according as those to whom it is given 
are bad or good. If one considers the authority that the Ten had, and that 
which the dictators used to have, one will see that that of the Ten was 
greater beyond comparison. For when the dictator was created, the tribunes, 
consuls, and Senate remained with their authority; nor was the dictator able 
to take it away from them. If he had been able to deprive one of them of the 
consulate, one of the Senate, he could not annul the senatorial order and 
make new laws. So the Senate, the consuls, the tribunes, remaining in their 
authority, came to be like a guard on him to make him not depart from the 
right way. But in the creation of the Ten it happened all the contrary; for 
they annulled the consuls and the tribunes; they gave them authority to make 
laws and do any other thing, like the Roman people. So finding themselves 
alone, without consuls, without tribunes, without appeal to the people, and 
because of this not having anyone to observe them, they were able to 
become insolent in the second year, moved by the ambition of Appius. 
Because of this, one should note that when it is said that an authority given 
by free votes never hurts 3 any republic, one presupposes that a people is 


never led to give it except in the proper circumstances and for the proper 
times. But if—either because it was deceived or for some other cause that 
blinded it—it is led to give it imprudently, and in the mode that the Roman 
people gave it to the Ten, it always happens as it did. One easily proves this 
by considering what causes kept the dictators good and what made the Ten 
wicked, and also by considering how those republics have fared that have 
been kept well ordered in giving authority for a long time, as the Spartans 
gave to their kings and the Venetians to their dukes. For one will see that in 
both modes guards were posted who made them unable to use their 
authority badly. Nor does it help, in this case, that the matter be incorrupt; 
for an absolute authority corrupts the matter in a very short time and makes 
friends and partisans for itself. Nor is it hurt either by being poor or by not 
having relatives; for riches and every other favor run after it at once, as we 
shall discourse of in detail concerning the creation of the said Ten. 


#?36 ft 

Citizens Who Have Had Greater Honors 
Should Not Disdain Lesser Ones 

[1] The Romans had made Marcus Fabius and G. Manilius consuls and had 
won a very glorious battle against the Veientes and the Etruscans in which 
Quintus Fabius, the consul’s brother, who had been consul the year before, 
was killed. 1 Here one should consider how the orders of that city were 
suited to making it great; and how much other republics that are distant 
from its modes deceive themselves. For although the Romans were great 
lovers of glory, nonetheless they did not esteem it a dishonorable thing to 
obey now one whom they had commanded at another time, and to find 
themselves serving in the army of which they had been princes. Such a 
custom is contrary to the opinion, orders, and modes of citizens in our 
times. In Venice there is still the error that a citizen who has had a great 
rank is ashamed to accept a lesser one; and the city consents to his being 
able to keep his distance from it. Though such a thing may be honorable for 
the private individual, it is altogether useless for the public. For a republic 
should have more hope and should trust more in a citizen who descends 
from a great rank to govern in a lesser one than in one who rises from a 
lesser to govern in a greater. For one cannot reasonably believe in the latter 
unless one sees men around him who are of so much reverence or so much 
virtue that his newness can be moderated with their counsel and authority. 
And if in Rome there had been such a custom as is in Venice and in other 
modern republics and kingdoms—that he who had been consul once would 
never again wish to go in the armies unless he were consul—infinite things 
unfavorable to a free way of fife would have arisen, both through the errors 
the new men would have made and through the ambition they would have 
been able to use better if they had had men around them in the sight of 
whom they feared to err. So they would have come to be more unshackled, 
which would have turned out wholly to the public detriment. 


«37 M 

What Scandals the Agrarian Law Gave 
Birth to in Rome; and That to Make a Law 
in a Republic That Looks Very Far Back 
and Is against an Ancient Custom of the 
City Is Most Scandalous 

[1] It is the verdict of the ancient writers that men are wont to worry in evil 
and to become bored with good, and that from both of these two passions 
the same effects arise. 1 For whenever engaging in combat through necessity 
is taken from men they engage in combat through ambition, which is so 
powerful in human breasts that it never abandons them at whatever rank 
they rise to. The cause is that nature has created men so that they are able to 
desire everything and are unable to attain everything. So, since the desire is 
always greater than the power of acquiring, the result is discontent with 
what one possesses and a lack of satisfaction with it. From this arises the 
variability of their fortune; for since some men desire to have more, and 
some fear to lose what has been acquired, they come to enmities and to war, 
from which arise the ruin of one province and the exaltation of another. I 
have made this discourse because it was not enough for the Roman plebs to 
secure itself against the nobles by the creation of the tribunes, to which 
desire it was constrained by necessity; for having obtained that, it began at 
once to engage in combat through ambition, and to wish to share honors 
and belongings 2 with the nobility as the thing esteemed most by men. From 
this arose the disease that gave birth to contention over the Agrarian law, 3 
which in the end was the cause of the destruction of the republic. Because 
well-ordered republics have to keep the public rich and their citizens poor, 
it must be that in the city of Rome there was a defect in this law. Either it 
was not made at the beginning so that it did not have to be treated again 
every day; or they delayed so much in making it because looking back might 
be scandalous; 4 or if it was well ordered at first, it had been corrupted later 


by use. So in whatever mode it might have been, one never spoke of this law 
in Rome without turning the city upside down. 5 

[2] This law had two principal heads. In the one it set forth that no citizen 
could possess more than so many jugera of land; 6 in the other, that fields 
taken from enemies should be divided among the Roman people. 7 It 
therefore brought on offenses of two sorts to the nobles: for those who 
possessed more goods than the law permitted (who were the greater part of 
the nobles) had to be deprived of them, and dividing the goods of enemies 
among the plebs took away from them the way to get rich. So since these 
offenses came to bear against powerful men who, as it appeared to them, 
were defending the public in opposing it, whenever one was reminded of it, 
as was said, the whole city was turned upside down. With patience and 
industry the nobles temporized with it, either by leading an army out, or by 
having the tribune who proposed it opposed by another tribune, or by 
sometimes yielding to a part of it, or indeed by sending a colony to the 
place that had to be distributed. This happened in the countryside around 
Anzio: when the dispute over the law resurged, a colony drawn from Rome, 
to which the said countryside was assigned, was sent to the place. Here 
Titus Livy uses a notable phrase, saying that only with difficulty was anyone 
found in Rome to give his name to go to that colony, 8 so much was the 
plebs more willing to desire things in Rome than to possess them in Anzio. 9 
The temper 10 of this law went operating on thus for a time until the 
Romans began to take their arms to the farthest parts of Italy or outside 
Italy, after which it appears that it ceased. This came about because the 
fields the enemies of Rome possessed, being distant from the eyes of the 
plebs and in places where it was not easy to cultivate them, came to be less 
desired by them; and also the Romans were less punitive to their enemies in 
a like mode, and when they despoiled any town of its countryside, they 
distributed colonies there. So for such causes this law lay as though asleep 
until the Gracchi; when it was aroused by them, it altogether ruined Roman 
freedom. 11 For it found the power of its adversaries redoubled, and because 
of this it inflamed so much hatred between the plebs and the Senate that 
they came to arms and to bloodshed, beyond every civil mode and custom. 
So, since the public magistrates could not remedy it, and none of the 
factions could put hope in them, they had recourse to private remedies, and 
each one of the parties was thinking of how to make itself a head to defend 
it. In this scandal and disorder the plebs came first and gave reputation to 


Marius, so that it made him consul four times; and he continued in his 
consulate, with a few intervals, so long that he was able to make himself 
consul three other times. As the nobility had no remedy against such a 
plague, it turned to favoring Sulla; and when he had been made head of its 
party, they came to civil wars. After much bloodshed and changing of 
fortune, the nobility was left on top. 12 Later these humors were revived at 
the time of Caesar and Pompey; for after Caesar had made himself head of 
Marius’s party, and Pompey that of Sulla, in coming to grips Caesar was left 
on top. He was the first tyrant in Rome, such that never again was that city 
free. 13 

[3] Such, thus, were the beginning and the end of the Agrarian law. And 
although we have shown elsewhere that the enmities in Rome between the 
Senate and the plebs kept Rome free by giving rise to laws in favor of 
freedom, 14 and although the end of this Agrarian law appears not to 
conform to such a conclusion, I say that I do not, because of this, abandon 
such an opinion. For so great is the ambition of the great that it soon brings 
that city to its ruin if it is not beaten down in a city by various ways and 
various modes. So, if the contention over the Agrarian law took three 
hundred years to make Rome servile, it would perhaps have been led into 
servitude much sooner if the plebs had not always checked the ambition of 
the nobles, both with this law and with its other appetites. One also sees 
through this how much more men esteem property than honors. For the 
Roman nobility always yielded honors to the plebs without extraordinary 
scandals, but when it came to property, so great was its obstinacy in 
defending it that the plebs had recourse to the extraordinary [means] that 
were discoursed of above to vent its appetite. 15 The motors of this disorder 
were the Gracchi, whose intention one should praise more than their 
prudence. For to try to take away a disorder that has grown in a republic, 
and because of this to make a law that looks very far back, is an ill- 
considered policy. As was discoursed of above at length, 16 one does nothing 
but accelerate the evil to which the disorder is leading you; but by 
temporizing with it, either the evil comes later or it eliminates itself on its 
own with time, before it reaches its end. 



Weak Republics Are Hardly Resolute and 
Do Not Know How to Decide; and If They 
Ever Take Up Any Policy, It Arises More 
from Necessity Than from Choice 

[1] Since in Rome there was a very grave pestilence, and because of this it 
appeared to the Volsci and the Aequi that the time had come when they 
could crush Rome, these two peoples, having made a very large army, 
assaulted the Latins and the Hernici. 1 And as their countries were being 
despoiled, the Latins and the Hernici were constrained to make it 
understood in Rome and to beg that they be defended by the Romans. Since 
the Romans were burdened by disease, they replied to them that they should 
take up the policy of defending themselves on their own and with their 
arms, because they could not defend them. Here one recognizes the 
generosity and prudence of the Senate and how in every fortune it always 
wished to be the one that was prince over the decisions that its subjects 2 
would have to make. Nor was it ever ashamed to decide a thing that was 
contrary to its mode of life or to other decisions it had made when necessity 
commanded them to. 

[2] I say this because at other times the same Senate had forbidden the said 
peoples to arm and defend themselves, 3 so that to a Senate less prudent than 
this one it would have appeared to be falling from its rank to concede such 
defense to them. But this one always judged things as they should be judged, 
and always took the less bad policy for the better. 4 For not being able to 
defend its subjects tasted bad to it, and that they should arm themselves 
without them tasted bad, for the said reasons and for many others that are 
understood. Nonetheless, recognizing that they would arm themselves by 
necessity in any mode, since the enemy was upon them, it took the 
honorable part and willed that what they had to do they would do with 
license from it, so that having disobeyed by necessity, they should not 


become inured to disobeying by choice. Although this may appear to be the 
policy that should be adopted by every republic, nonetheless weak and badly 
counseled republics do not know how to take it up, nor do they know how to 
honor themselves in like necessities. Duke Valentino had taken Faenza and 
had made Bologna bow to his terms. 5 Then, wishing to return to Rome 
through Tuscany, he sent his man to Florence to ask passage for himself and 
his army. In Florence they consulted one another as to how one might have 
to govern this affair, and it was never counseled by anyone to concede it to 
him. In this, one did not follow the Roman mode, for since the duke was 
very well armed and the Florentines so unarmed that they could not prevent 
him from passing through, it was much more to their honor that he should 
appear to pass by their will rather than by force, because, while it was 
altogether their reproach, it would have been less so in part if they had 
conducted it otherwise. But the worst part that weak republics take is to be 
irresolute, so that all the policies they take up are taken up by force; and if 
any good comes to be done by them, they do it forced and not by their 

[3] I wish to give two other examples of this that occurred in our times in 
the state of our city. In 1500, when King Louis XII of France had retaken 
Milan, he was desirous of turning over Pisa to Florence so as to have the 
fifty thousand ducats that had been promised to him by the Florentines after 
the restitution. He sent his armies toward Pisa, captained by Monsieur de 
Beaumont, who, though French, was nonetheless a man whom the 
Florentines trusted very much. This army and this captain took themselves 
between Cascina and Pisa so as to go into combat against the walls. As they 
waited there for some days so as to order themselves for the storming, Pisan 
spokesmen came to Beaumont and offered to give the city to the French 
army with this pact: that he promise by the faith of the king not to put it in 
the hands of the Florentines before the end of four months. This policy was 
altogether rejected by the Florentines, with the result that they took the field 
and left it in shame. Nor was the policy rejected for any other cause than 
that they distrusted the faith of the king, as those who through the weakness 
of their counsel had put themselves by force into his hands. On the other 
hand, they did not trust him, nor did they see how much better it was for the 
king to be able to turn Pisa over to them when he was inside it—and, if he 
did not turn it over, to uncover his intent—than for him to be able to 
promise it to them when he did not have it, and for them to be forced to 
buy those promises. So they would have acted much more profitably if they 


had consented that Beaumont take it under any promise whatever—as 
experience showed later, in 1502, when Monsieur Imbault was sent by the 
king of France with French troops to aid the Florentines after Arezzo had 
rebelled. 6 When he arrived near Arezzo, after a short time he began to 
negotiate an accord with the Aretines, who wished to give over the town 
under a certain pledge, 7 as had the Pisans. The policy was rejected in 
Florence; seeing this, Monsieur Imbault began to hold negotiations for an 
accord by himself, without the participation of the commissioners, since it 
was apparent to him that the Florentines understood little of this. So he 
concluded it in his own mode and under it entered Arezzo with his troops, 
giving the Florentines to understand that they were mad and did not 
understand worldly things; for if they wished for Arezzo, they should have 
made it understood to the king, who could give it to them much better if he 
had his troops inside the city than outside. In Florence they did not stop 
tearing up and blaming the said Imbault; nor did they ever stop until at last 
it was recognized that if Beaumont had been like Imbault, they would have 
had Pisa as well as Arezzo. 

[4] So, to return to our point, irresolute republics never take up good 
policies unless by force, because their weakness never allows them to decide 
where there is any doubt; and if that doubt is not suppressed by violence 
that drives them on, they always remain in suspense. 


«39 M 

In Diverse Peoples the Same Accidents 
May Often Be Seen 

[1] Whoever considers present and ancient things easily knows that in all 
cities and in all peoples there are the same desires and the same humors, 
and there always have been. So it is an easy thing for whoever examines 
past things diligently to foresee future things in every republic and to take 
the remedies for them that were used by the ancients, or, if they do not find 
any that were used, to think up new ones through the similarity of 
accidents. But because these considerations are neglected or not understood 
by whoever reads, or, if they are understood, they are not known to whoever 
governs, it follows that there are always the same scandals in every time. 

[2] After ’94, when the city of Florence had lost part of its empire, such as 
Pisa and other towns, it was compelled of necessity to make war on those 
who had seized them. 1 And because he who seized them was powerful, it 
followed that [the Florentines] spent very much in the war, fruitlessly; from 
very much spending came very heavy taxes; from the taxes, infinite quarrels 
among the people. And because this war was administered by a magistracy 
of ten citizens, who were called the Ten of War, the collectivity began to 
bear spite against them, as the cause both of the war and of its expenses; 
and it began to persuade itself that if the said magistracy were taken away, 
the war would be taken away. So when it had to be remade, replacements 
were not made for it; it was allowed to expire and its functions transferred 
to the Signoria. That decision was so pernicious that not only did it not 
remove the war, as the collectivity had persuaded itself, but, since those 
men who were administering it with prudence were taken away, such 
disorder followed that, besides Pisa, Arezzo and many other places were 
lost, so that when the people saw better its error, and that the cause of the ill 
was the fever and not the physician, it remade the magistracy of the Ten. 
This same humor was raised in Rome against the name of the consuls. For 
when the people saw one war after another arise, and that they could never 
rest, whereas they should have thought that it arose from the ambition of 


neighbors who wished to crush them, they thought it arose from the 
ambition of the nobles, who, since they were unable to punish the plebs 
when defended by the tribunate power 2 inside Rome, wished to lead it 
outside Rome under the consuls so as to crush it where it did not have any 
aid. They thought, because of this, that it might be necessary either to 
remove the consuls or to regulate their power 3 so that they did not have 
authority over the people either outside or at home. The first who attempted 
this law was one Terentillus, a tribune, who proposed that five men ought to 
be created to consider the power of the consuls and to limit it. 4 This very 
much upset the nobility, since the majesty of the empire appeared to it to 
have altogether declined, so that there no longer remained any rank for the 
nobility in that republic. The obstinacy of the tribunes was nonetheless so 
great that the consular name was eliminated; 5 and in the end they were 
content, after some other ordering, to create tribunes with consular power 6 
rather than consuls—so much more was the name held in hatred than their 
authority. 7 So they continued a long time until their error was recognized, 
and as the Florentines returned to the Ten, so they recreated consuls. 


#$40 ft 

The Creation of the Decemvirate in Rome, 
and What Is to Be Noted in It; Where It Is 
Considered, among Many Other Things, 
How through Such an Accident One Can 
Either Save or Crush a Republic 

[1] Since I wish to discourse in detail of the accidents that arose in Rome 
through the creation of the Decemvirate, it does not appear to me 
superfluous first to narrate all that followed from that creation and then to 
dispute those parts that are notable in their actions. These are many and of 
great importance, as well for those who wish to maintain a free republic as 
for those who plan to subject it. For in such a discourse one will see many 
errors made by the Senate and by the plebs unfavorable to freedom, and 
many errors made by Appius, head of the Decemvirate, unfavorable to the 
tyranny that he had supposed he would stabilize in Rome. 

[2] After many disputes and contentions that continued between the people 
and the nobility, so as to confirm new laws in Rome through which the 
freedom of that state would be more stabilized, by agreement they sent 
Spurius Postumius with two other citizens to Athens for examples of the 
laws that Solon gave to that city so that they could found the Roman laws on 
them. When these had gone and returned, they came to the creation of men 
who would have to examine and confirm the said laws, and they created ten 
citizens for a year, among whom was Appius Claudius, a sagacious and 
restless man. And so that they could create such laws without any hesitation, 
they removed all the other magistrates from Rome, and in particular the 
tribunes and the consuls, and removed the appeal to the people, so that that 
magistracy came to be altogether prince of Rome. All the authority of his 
partners was turned over to Appius because of the favor that he had with the 
plebs, for with demonstrations he had made himself so popular that it 
appeared marvelous that he had taken on a new nature and a new genius so 


quickly, since before this time he had been held a cruel persecutor of the 
plebs. 1 

[3] These Ten conducted themselves very civilly, keeping not more than 
twelve lictors, who went before the one who was put ahead among them. 2 
Although they had absolute authority, nonetheless, when they had to punish 
a Roman citizen for homicide, they summoned him into the presence of the 
people and had him judged by it. They wrote their laws on ten tables, and 
before they confirmed them, they put them out in public so that everyone 
could read them and dispute them, so that it might be known if there was 
any defect in them so as to be able to amend them before their 
confirmation. In this regard Appius had a rumor raised throughout Rome 
that if to these ten tables two others were added, they would be brought to 
their perfection; so this opinion gave opportunity to the people to remake 
the Ten for another year, to which the people agreed willingly, both so as 
not to remake the consuls and because it appeared to them they could do 
without tribunes, since they were judges of cases, as was said above. Thus, 
since the policy of remaking them had been adopted, the whole nobility 
moved to seek these honors, and among the first was Appius. He used so 
much humanity toward the plebs in asking for [the honor] that it began to 
be suspect to his partners, “for they hardly believed that in such great 
arrogance friendship would be spontaneous.” 3 Hesitating to oppose him 
openly, they decided to do it with art; and although he was the most junior 
in age of all, they gave him authority to propose the future Ten to the 
people, believing that he would observe the limits of others in not proposing 
himself, since that was an uncustomary and ignominious thing in Rome. 
“He indeed seized on this obstacle as an opportunity” 4 and named himself 
among the first, to the astonishment and displeasure of all the nobles; then 
he named nine others to his purpose. That new creation, made for another 
year, began to show its error to the people and the nobility. For at once 
“Appius put an end to playing an alien persona,” 5 began to show his inborn 
pride, and in a few days permeated his partners with his customs. To terrify 
the people and the Senate, they made one hundred twenty lictors instead of 

[4] The fear remained equal for some days; but then they began to entertain 
the Senate and to beat down the plebs. If someone who was beaten by one 
appealed to another, he was treated worse in the appeal than in the first 
sentence. So, when the plebs had recognized its error, it began, full of 


affliction, to look the nobles in the face “and to try to breathe in the air of 
freedom where, by fearing servitude, they had brought the republic to its 
present state.” 6 To the nobility their affliction was gratifying, “as they 
themselves, disgusted with the present, desired consuls.” 7 The days that 
ended the year came: two tables of laws were produced but not made 
public. From this the Ten took the opportunity to continue in the 
magistracy; and they began to hold the state with violence and to make 
satellites for themselves of the noble youths, to whom they gave the goods of 
those they condemned. “The youths were corrupted by these goods, and they 
preferred their own license to the freedom of all.” 8 In this time it came to 
pass that the Sabines and the Volsci 9 started a war against the Romans, in 
fear of which the Ten began to see the weakness of their state, because 
without the Senate they could not order for the war, and if the Senate met, 
it appeared to them they would lose the state. Yet, compelled by necessity, 
they adopted this last policy; and when the senators met together, many of 
the senators spoke against the pride of the Ten, and in particular Valerius 
and Horatius. Their authority would have been entirely eliminated if the 
Senate through envy of the plebs had not been unwilling to show its 
authority, thinking that if the Ten laid down the magistracy voluntarily, the 
tribunes of the plebs might not be remade. Thus they decided on war and 
they went out with two armies led in part by the said Ten; Appius remained 
to govern the city. Hence it arose that he fell in love with Virginia and that, 
since he wished to take her by force, her father Virginius killed her to free 
her. Hence followed tumults in Rome and in the armies, which, retiring 
together with the rest of the Roman plebs, went off to the Sacred Mount, 
where they stayed until the Ten laid down the magistracy. Tribunes and 
consuls were created, and Rome was brought back to the form of its ancient 
freedom. 10 

[5] Thus through this text one notes, first, that in Rome the inconvenience 
of creating this tyranny arose for those same causes that the greater part of 
tyrannies in cities arises; and this is from too great a desire of the people to 
be free and from too great a desire of the nobles to command. When they 
do not agree to make a law in favor of freedom, but one of the parties 
jumps to favor one individual, then it is that tyranny emerges at once. The 
nobles and the people of Rome agreed to create the Ten, and to create them 
with so much authority because of the desire that each of the parties had— 
the one to eliminate the consular name, the other the tribunate. Once they 
were created, when it appeared to the plebs that Appius had become 


popular and was beating down the nobility, the people turned to favoring 
him. When a people brings itself to make this error of giving reputation to 
one individual because he beats down those it holds in hatred, and if that 
individual is wise, it will always happen that he will become tyrant of the 
city. For he will wait to eliminate the nobility with the favor of the people; 
and he will never turn to the oppression of the people until he has 
eliminated them, at which time, when the people recognizes it is servile, it 
has nowhere to take refuge. All those who have founded tyrannies in 
republics have held to this mode. If Appius had held to this mode, his 
tyranny would have taken on more life and would not have failed so quickly; 
but he did quite the contrary, and he could not have conducted himself 
more imprudently. For to hold the tyranny he made himself the enemy of 
those who had given it to him and could maintain it for him, and the 
enemy 11 of those who had not concurred in giving it to him and would not 
have been able to maintain it for him; and he lost those who were friends to 
him and sought to have as friends those who could not be friends to him. 
For although nobles may desire to tyrannize, that part of the nobility that 
finds itself outside the tyranny is always an enemy to the tyrant; nor can he 
ever win over all of it, because of the great ambition and great avarice that 
are in it, since the tyrant cannot have either so much wealth or so many 
honors that he may satisfy all of it. And so, by leaving the people and taking 
the side of the nobles, Appius made a most evident error, both for the 
reasons given above and because, if one wishes to hold a thing with 
violence, whoever forces needs to be more powerful than whoever is forced. 

[6] Hence it arises that those tyrants who have the collectivity as a friend 
and the great as an enemy are more secure, because their violence is 
sustained by greater force than that of those who have the people for an 
enemy and the nobility for a friend. For with the favor of the former, 
internal 12 forces are enough to preserve oneself, as they were enough for 
Nabis, tyrant of Sparta, when all Greece and the Roman people assaulted 
him. 13 After he had secured himself against a few nobles, having the people 
as a friend, he defended himself with it, which he would not have been able 
to do if he had it as an enemy. In that other condition, because one has few 
friends inside, internal 14 forces are not enough and he must seek them 
outside. And [outside forces] have to be of three sorts: one, foreign satellites 
to guard your person; another, arm the countryside to do the duty that the 
plebs ought to have done; third, get close to neighboring powers to defend 
you. Whoever holds to these modes and observes them well could save 


himself in some mode, even though he had the people for an enemy. But 
Appius could not accomplish the [mode] of gaining over the countryside to 
himself since the countryside and Rome were one and the same thing; and 
that which he could have done he did not know how to do, so that he was 
ruined in his first beginnings. 

[7] The Senate and the people made very great errors in the creation of the 
Decemvirate; for even though it was said above, in the discourse that was 
made on the dictator, 15 that those magistrates who make themselves by 
themselves—not those whom the people makes—are hurtful to freedom, 
nonetheless when the people orders magistrates, it should make them so that 
they have to have some hesitation about becoming criminals. Whereas [the 
people] ought to post a guard for itself over [the magistrates] to keep them 
good, the Romans took it away, making [the Ten] the only magistracy in 
Rome and annulling all others because of the excessive wish (as we said 
above) that the Senate had to eliminate the tribunes and the plebs to 
eliminate the consuls. This blinded them in such a mode that they agreed to 
such disorder. For as King Ferdinand used to say, men often act like certain 
lesser birds of prey, in whom there is such desire to catch their prey, to 
which nature urges them, that they do not sense another larger bird that is 
above them so as to kill them. 16 Thus one may know through this discourse, 
as I put it at the beginning, the error of the Roman people if they wished to 
save their freedom, and the errors of Appius if he wished to seize a tyranny. 


«41 ft 

To Leap from Humility to Pride, from 
Mercy to Cruelty, without Due Degrees Is 
Something Imprudent and Useless 

[1] Among the other means badly used by Appius to maintain his tyranny, it 
was of no little moment to leap too quickly from one quality to another. For 
his astuteness in deceiving the plebs, pretending to be a man of the people, 
was well used; also well used were the means he adopted so that the Ten 
would have to be remade; also well used was the audacity of creating 
himself against the opinion of the nobility; creating partners to his purposes 
was well used. But it was not at all well used, when he had done this, as I 
say above, to change nature of a sudden and from a friend of the plebs show 
himself an enemy; from humane, proud; from agreeable, difficult; 1 and to 
do it so quickly that without any excuse every man had to know the falsity 
of his spirit. For whoever has appeared good for a time and wishes for his 
purposes to become wicked ought to do it by due degrees and to conduct 
himself with opportunities, so that before your different nature takes away 
old favor from you, it has given you so much new that you do not come to 
diminish your authority; otherwise, finding yourself uncovered and without 
friends, you are ruined. 



*>42 n 

How Easily Men Can Be Corrupted 

[1] One also notes in the matter of the Decemvirate how easily men are 
corrupted and make themselves assume a contrary nature, 1 however good 
and well brought up, considering how much the youths that Appius had 
chosen around him began to be friendly to the tyranny for the little utility 
that came to them from it, and how Quintus Fabius, one in the number of 
the second Ten—though a very good man—blinded by a little ambition and 
persuaded by the malignity of Appius, changed his good customs to the 
worst and became like him. 2 If this is well examined, it will make 
legislators of republics and kingdoms more ready to check human appetites 
and to take away from them all hope of being able to err with impunity. 


«43 M 

Those Who Engage in Combat for Their 
Own Glory Are Good and Faithful Soldiers 

[1] One also considers, from the treatment written above, how much 
difference there is between an army that is content and engages in combat 
for its own glory and one that is ill disposed and engages in combat for the 
ambition of someone else. For whereas under the consuls Roman armies 
were always accustomed to be victorious, under the decemvirs they always 
lost. 1 From this example one can know in part the causes of the uselessness 
of mercenary soldiers, which do not have cause to hold them firm other 
than a little stipend that you give them. That cause is not and cannot be 
enough to make them faithful and so much your friends that they wish to die 
for you. 2 For in those armies in which there is no affection toward him for 
whom they engage in combat that makes them become his partisans, there 
can never be enough virtue to resist an enemy who is a little virtuous. 
Because neither this love nor this rivalry arises except from your subjects, it 
is necessary to arm one’s subjects for oneself, if one wishes to hold a state— 
if one wishes to maintain a republic or a kingdom—as one sees those have 
done who have made great profit with armies. The Roman armies under the 
Ten had the same virtue; but because there was not the same disposition, 
they did not have the customary effects. But as soon as the magistracy of the 
Ten was eliminated, and they began to serve in the military as free persons, 
the same spirit returned to them, and, in consequence, their enterprises had 
the same happy end as by their former custom. 3 


*$44 ft 

A Multitude without a Head Is Useless; 
and That One Should Not First Threaten 
and Then Request Authority 

[1] Because of the incident of Virginia, the Roman plebs had repaired, 
armed, to the Sacred Mount. 1 The Senate sent its ambassadors to ask with 
what authority they had abandoned their captains and repaired to the 
Mount. So much was the authority of the Senate esteemed that no one 
dared to respond, since the plebs had no heads among them. Titus Livy says 
that they did not lack matter to respond but they lacked one who would 
make the response. Such a thing demonstrates precisely the uselessness of a 
multitude without a head. The disorder was recognized by Virginius, and by 
his order twenty military tribunes were created to be their heads and to 
respond to and meet with the Senate. When they requested that Valerius 
and Horatius be sent to them, to whom they would say their wish, the two 
did not wish to go there if the Ten did not first lay down the magistracy. 
When they arrived on the Mount where the plebs was, they were asked by it 
to create tribunes of the plebs, and to have appeal to the people from every 
magistracy, and to give over all the Ten to them, because they wished to 
burn them alive. 

[2] Valerius and Horatius praised their first demands; they blamed the last as 
impious, saying, “You damn cruelty, you rush into cruelty.” 2 They counseled 
them that they ought to omit making mention of the Ten and that they 
should wait until they had retaken their authority and their power; then they 
would not lack their mode of satisfying themselves. Here one knows openly 
how much stupidity and how little prudence there is to ask for a thing and to 
say first: I wish to do such and such evil with it. For one should not show 
one’s intent but try to seek to obtain one’s desire in any mode. For it is 
enough to ask someone 3 for his arms without saying, “I wish to kill you with 
them,” since you are able to satisfy your appetite after you have the arms in 



45 m 

Nonobservance of a Law That Has Been 
Made, and Especially by Its Author, Is a 
Thing That Sets a Bad Example; and to 
Freshen New Injuries Every Day in a City 
Is Most Harmful to Whoever Governs It 

[1] When the accord had been accomplished and Rome had been returned 
to its former form, Virginius summoned Appius before the people to defend 
his cause. The latter appeared accompanied by many nobles; Virginius 
commanded that he be put in prison. Appius began to cry out and to appeal 
to the people. Virginius said that he was not worthy of having the appeal 
that he had destroyed, and to have as defender the people that he had 
offended. Appius replied that they did not have to violate the appeal that 
with so much desire they had ordered. Thereupon he was incarcerated, and 
before the day of the judgment he killed himself. ! Although the criminal 
life of Appius merited every punishment, nonetheless it was hardly a civil 
thing to violate the laws, and so much the more one that had been made 
then. For I do not believe there is a thing that sets a more wicked example 
in a republic than to make a law and not observe it, and so much the more 
as it is not observed by him who made it. 

[2] Florence, after ’94, had been reordered in its state by the aid of Friar 
Girolamo Savonarola, whose writings show the learning, the prudence, and 
the virtue of his spirit. 2 Among the other institutions to secure the citizens, 
he had had a law made so that one could appeal to the people from 
sentences that the Eight and the Signoria gave in state cases. He urged this 
law for a long time and obtained it with the greatest difficulty. Soon after its 
confirmation, it happened that five citizens were condemned to death by the 
Signoria on the state’s account; and when they wished to appeal, they were 
not allowed to and the law was not observed. 3 That took away more 


reputation from the friar than any other accident: for if the appeal was 
useful, it ought to have been observed; if it was not useful, he ought not to 
have had it passed. This accident was noted so much the more since, in so 
many sermons he made after the law was broken, the friar never either 
condemned 4 whoever had broken it or excused him, as one whom he did 
not wish to condemn, since it was a thing that was turned to his purpose and 
that he could not excuse. This exposure of his ambitious and partisan spirit 
took away reputation from him and brought him very much disapproval. 

[3] A state also offends very much when it freshens new humors every day 
in the spirits of your citizens through new injuries that are done to this one 
and that, as happened in Rome after the Decemvirate. For all the Ten, and 
other citizens at different times, were accused and condemned so that there 
was a very great fright in all the nobility, since it judged that no end would 
ever be put to like condemnations until all the nobility had been destroyed. 
It would have generated great inconvenience in that city if Marcus Duellius, 
the tribune, had not provided against it. He made an edict that for one year 
it would not be permitted for anyone to summon or accuse any Roman 
citizen—which reassured all the nobility. 5 There one sees how much it is 
harmful to a republic or to a prince to hold the spirits of subjects in 
suspense and fearful with continual penalties and offenses. Without doubt 
one could not hold to a more pernicious order, because men who begin to 
suspect they have to suffer evil secure themselves by every mode in their 
dangers and become more audacious and less hesitant to try new things. 
Thus it is necessary either not to offend anyone ever or to do the offenses at 
a stroke, and then to reassure men and give them cause to quiet and steady 
their spirits. 6 



#?46 n 

Men Ascend from One Ambition to 
Another; First One Seeks Not to Be 
Offended, and Then One Offends Others 

[1] When the Roman people had recovered its freedom and returned to its 
former rank—and so much the greater since many new laws had been made 
in confirmation of its power—it appeared reasonable that Rome would 
quiet down for some time. 1 Nonetheless by experience one may see the 
contrary, for every day new tumults and new discords rose up there. Because 
Titus Livy very prudently supplies the reason why these arose, it does not 
appear to me inapposite to refer precisely to his words, where he says that 
either the people or the nobility always became proud when the other 
humbled itself. 2 When the plebs stayed quiet within its bounds, the young 
nobles began to injure it; and the tribunes could find few remedies for it 
because they too were violated. Though it appeared to the nobility on the 
other side, that its youth had been too ferocious, it preferred that if the 
bounds 3 had to be overstepped, its own should overstep and not the plebs. 
So the desire to defend freedom made each one try to prevail so much that 
he oppressed the other. The order of these accidents is that when men seek 
not to fear, they begin to make others fear; and the injury that they dispel 
from themselves they put upon another, as if it were necessary to offend or 
to be offended. One sees by this in what mode, among others, republics 
break down, and in what mode men ascend from one ambition to another, 
and how that Sallustian sentence, put in the mouth of Caesar, is very true: 
that “all bad examples have arisen from good beginnings.” 4 Those citizens 
who live ambitiously in a republic, as was said above, seek as the first thing 
to be able not to be offended, not only by private individuals but also by the 
magistrates. They seek friendships so as to be able to do this; and they 
acquire them in ways honest in appearance, either by helping with money or 
by defending them from the powerful. Because this appears virtuous, it 
easily deceives everyone, and because of this they offer no remedies against 


it, so that he, persevering without hindrance, becomes of such quality that 
private citizens have fear of him and the magistrates have respect for him. 
When he has ascended to this rank, and he has not already been prevented 
from greatness, he comes to be in a position where to try to strike him is 
most dangerous, for the reasons that I gave above 5 of the danger there is in 
striking at an inconvenience that has already gained much increase in a city. 
So the affair comes down to a point at which one needs either to seek to 
eliminate him with danger of sudden ruin or, by allowing him to act, to 
enter into a manifest servitude, unless death or some accident frees you 
from it. For having come to the positions written above, where the citizens 
and magistrates have fear of offending him and his friends, he does not have 
much trouble getting them to judge and to offend in his mode. Hence a 
republic must have among its orders this one, of watching out that its 
citizens cannot do evil under shadow of good, and that they have that 
reputation that helps and does not hurt freedom, as will be disputed by us in 
its place. 6 


«47 M 

However Deceived in Generalities, Men 
Are Not Deceived in Particulars 

[1] When the Roman people, as was said above, 1 was disgusted with the 
consular name and wished for plebeian men to be able to be made consuls 
or for their authority to be diminished, the nobility, so as not to blemish the 
consular authority either with one thing or with the other, took a middle 
way and was content that four tribunes with consular power, who could be 
plebeians as well as nobles, be created. 2 The plebs was content with this, as 
it appeared to it to eliminate the consulate and to get its part in this highest 
rank. From this arose a notable case, for coming to the creation of these 
tribunes and being able to create all plebeians, the Roman people created all 
nobles. Hence Titus Livy says these words: “The outcome of these elections 
taught that there is one spirit in contention over freedom and honor, 
another after conflict has been put aside and when their judgment is 
uncorrupt.” 3 Examining what this could proceed from, I believe it proceeds 
from men’s being very much deceived in general things, not so much in 
particulars. It appeared generally to the Roman plebs that it deserved the 
consulate because it had more part in the city, because it carried more 
danger in wars, because it was that which with its arms 4 kept Rome free 
and made it powerful. Since to the plebs its desire appeared reasonable, as 
was said, it turned to obtaining this authority in any mode. But as it had to 
pass judgment on its men particularly, it recognized their weakness and 
judged that no one of them deserved that which the whole together 
appeared to it to deserve. So, ashamed of them, it had recourse to those 
who deserved it. Titus Livy, deservedly marveling at this decision, says these 
words: “This modesty, equity, and elevation of spirit—where will you now 
find in one what then was in the people universally?” 5 

[2] In confirmation of this, one can bring up another notable example that 
occurred in Capua after Hannibal defeated the Romans at Cannae. 6 
Although all Italy was stirred up because of this defeat, Capua was still in 


tumult because of the hatred there was between the people and the Senate. 
Pacuvius Calanus, 7 finding himself at that time in the supreme magistracy, 
and recognizing the danger that being in tumult was bringing to the city, 
planned through his rank to reconcile the plebs with the nobility. After he 
had this thought, he had the Senate convened and narrated to them the 
hatred the people had against them and the dangers they bore of being killed 
by it, and the city given to Hannibal, the Romans’ affairs being in distress. 
Then he added that if they wished to let this affair be governed by him, he 
would do it so that they would unite together; but he wished to shut them 
inside the palace and, by giving the people the power to punish them, save 
them. The senators yielded to his opinion, and he called the people to a 
meeting, having closed up the senate in the palace. He said that the time 
had come that they could tame the pride of the nobility and avenge 
themselves for the injuries received from it, since he had closed them all in 
under his custody. But because he believed that they did not wish for their 
city to remain without government, if they wished to kill the old senators, it 
was necessary to create new ones. Therefore he had all the names of the 
senators put in a bag and would begin to draw them out in their presence, 
and he would have those drawn killed one by one as soon as they had found 
the successor. As he began to draw out one of them, a very great noise was 
raised at his name, calling him a proud, cruel, and arrogant man; and when 
Pacuvius requested them to make the exchange, the whole meeting was 
quiet. After a while one of the plebs was named, at whose name someone 
began to whistle, someone to laugh, someone to speak ill of him in one 
mode, and someone in another. So continuing one by one, all those who 
were named they judged unworthy of senatorial rank. So, taking this 
opportunity, Pacuvius said: “Since you judge that this city is badly off 
without the Senate and you do not agree on making exchanges for the old 
senators, I think it is good that you reconcile yourselves together; for the 
fear that the senators have been in will have made them so humble that the 
humanity that you are seeking elsewhere you will find in them.” 8 When this 
was agreed to, the union of this order followed, and the deception they were 
under was exposed when they were constrained to come to particulars. 
Besides this, peoples are deceived generally in judging things and their 
accidents about which, after they know them particularly, they lack such 

[3] After 1494, when the princes of the city had been expelled from 
Florence and no ordered government was there, 9 but rather a certain 


ambitious license, and public things were going from bad to worse, many 
popular men, seeing the ruin of their city and not understanding any other 
cause for it, accused the ambition of someone powerful who was nourishing 
the disorders so as to be able to make a state to his purpose and take 
freedom away from them. This sort stood around the loggias and piazzas 
speaking ill of many citizens, threatening that if they ever became signors, 
they would uncover their deception and would punish them. It often 
happened that persons like these ascended to the supreme magistracy, and 
as he had risen to that place and had seen things more closely, he recognized 
where the disorders arose from, and the dangers that impended, and the 
difficulty in remedying them. Since he saw that the times and not the men 
caused the disorder, he suddenly became of another mind and of another 
sort, because the knowledge of particular things took away from him the 
deception that had been presupposed in considering them generally. So 
those who had first heard him speak when he was a private individual and 
later seen him become quiet in the supreme magistracy believed that this 
arose not through a truer knowledge of things but because he had been got 
around and corrupted by the great. Since this befalls many men, and many 
times, a proverb arises among them that says: They have one mind in the 
piazza and another in the palazzo. Thus, considering all that has been 
discoursed of, one sees how, seeing that a generality deceives them, one can 
soon open the eyes of peoples by finding a mode by which they have to 
descend to particulars, as did Pacuvius in Capua and the Senate in Rome. I 
also believe that one may be able to conclude that a prudent man should 
never flee the popular judgment in particular things concerning 
distributions of ranks and dignities, for only in this does the people not 
deceive itself; and if it deceives itself at some time, it is so rare that a few 
men who have to make such distributions will deceive themselves more 
often. Nor does it appear to me superfluous to show, in the following 
chapter, the order that the Senate held to so as to deceive the people in its 


«48 M 

He Who Wishes That a Magistracy Not Be 
Given to Someone Vile or Someone Wicked 
Should Have It Asked for Either by 
Someone Too Vile and Too Wicked or by 
Someone Too Noble and Too Good 

[1] When the Senate feared that tribunes with consular power would be 
made of plebeian men, it held to one of two modes: either it had [the 
position] asked for by the most reputed men in Rome; or truly, through due 
degrees, it corrupted some vile and very ignoble plebeian who, mixed with 
the plebeians of better quality who ordinarily asked for it, also asked them 
for it. 1 This last mode made the plebs ashamed to give it; the first made it 
ashamed to take it. All of this returns to the purpose of the preceding 
discourse, in which it is shown that the people does not deceive itself in 
particulars, even if it deceives itself in generalities. 


49 n 

If Those Cities That Have Had a Free 
Beginning, Such as Rome, Have Difficulty 
in Finding Laws That Will Maintain Them, 
Those That Have Had One Immediately 
Servile Have Almost an Impossibility 

[1] The course of the Roman republic demonstrates extremely well how 
difficult it is, in ordering a republic, to provide for all the laws that maintain 
it free. Notwithstanding the many laws that were ordered there by Romulus 
first, then by Numa, by Tullus Hostilius and Servius, and last by the ten 
citizens created for like work, nonetheless new necessities in managing that 
city were always discovered, and it was necessary to create new orders, as 
happened when they created the censors, 1 which were one of those 
provisions that helped keep Rome free for the time that it lived in freedom. 
For when they had become arbiters of the customs of Rome, they were a 
very powerful cause why the Romans delayed more in corrupting 
themselves. They did indeed make an error in the beginning of the creation 
of such a magistracy, creating it for five years; but after not much time, it 
was corrected by the prudence of Mamercus the dictator, who by a new law 
reduced the said magistracy to eighteen months. This the censors who were 
on watch took so ill that they denied Mamercus [membership in] the 
Senate, which was very much blamed both by the plebs and by the Fathers. 
Because the history does not show that Mamercus was able to defend 
himself against it, 2 it must be either that the historian is defective or that 
the orders of Rome in this aspect are not good, for it is not good for a 
republic to be ordered so that one citizen, by promulgating a law 
conforming to a free way of life, can be offended for it without any remedy. 

[2] But, returning to the beginning of this discourse, I say that the creation 
of this new magistracy should make one consider that if those cities that 
have had their beginning free and that have been corrected by themselves, 


like Rome, have great difficulty in finding good laws for maintaining 
themselves free, it is not marvelous that the cities that have had their 
beginnings immediately servile have not difficulty but an impossibility in 
ever ordering themselves so that they may be able to live civilly and quietly. 
As one sees in what happened to the city of Florence: having had its 
beginning subordinate to the Roman Empire, and having always lived under 
the government of another, it remained abject for a time, without thinking 
about itself. Then, when the opportunity came for taking a breath, it began 
to make its own orders, which could not have been good, since they were 
mixed with the ancient that were bad. So it has gone on managing itself, for 
the two hundred years of true memory that it has without ever having had a 
state for which it could truly be called a republic. The difficulties that have 
been in it have always been in all those cities that have had similar 
beginnings. Although many times, through public and free votes, expansive 
authority has been given to a few citizens to enable them to reform it, they 
have not therefore ever ordered it for the common utility but always for the 
purpose of their party, which has made not order but greater disorder in 
that city. 

[3] To come to some particular example, I say that among the other things 
that have to be considered by an orderer of a republic is to examine in 
which men’s hands he puts the authority to shed blood against its own 
citizens. This was well ordered in Rome because one could appeal to the 
people ordinarily; and if indeed an important thing did occur in which it 
was dangerous to defer the execution during the appeal, they had the refuge 
of the dictator, who executed immediately—in which remedy they never 
took refuge unless for necessity. But Florence and the other cities born in its 
mode, being servile, had this authority invested in a foreigner, who, sent by 
the prince, filled such an office. When later they came into freedom, they 
maintained this authority in a foreigner whom they called the captain. 3 
Because he could easily be corrupted by powerful citizens, this was a very 
pernicious thing. But later, changing this order for themselves because of 
the change of states, they created eight citizens who would fill the office of 
the captain. 4 Such an order went from bad to worst, for the reasons that 
have been said at other times: that the few were always ministers of the few 
and of the most powerful. The city of Venice, which had ten citizens who 
could punish any citizen without appeal, guarded itself from this. 5 Because 
they might not be enough to punish the powerful, although they had 
authority for it, they had constituted there the Forty; and more, they willed 


that the Council of the Pregai, which is the largest council, be able to 
punish them so that if an accuser is not lacking, a judge is not lacking to 
hold powerful men in check. Thus, seeing that in Rome, ordered by itself 
and by so many prudent men, every day new causes emerged for which it 
had to make new orders in favor of a free way of life, it is not marvelous if 
in other cities that have a more disordered beginning so many difficulties 
emerge that they are never able to reorder themselves. 



«50 ft 

One Council or One Magistrate Should 
Not Be Able to Stop the Actions of Cities 

[1] Titus Quintius Cincinnatus and Gnaeus Julius Mentus were consuls in 
Rome who, since they were disunited, had stopped all the actions of that 
republic. The Senate, seeing this, urged them to create the dictator to do 
that which they were unable to do because of their discords. But the 
consuls, in discord in every other thing, were in accord only in not wishing 
to create the dictator. So, not having any other remedy, the Senate had 
recourse to the aid of the tribunes, who with the authority of the Senate 
forced the consuls to obey. 1 Here it has to be noted, first, the utility of the 
tribunate, which was useful in checking not only the ambition that the 
powerful used against the plebs, but that too that they used among 
themselves; the other, that it should never be ordered in a city that the few 
can hold up any of those decisions that ordinarily are necessary to maintain 
the republic. For instance, if you give an authority to a council to make a 
distribution of honors and of useful things, or to a magistrate to administer 
a business, one must either impose a necessity on him so that he has to act 
in any mode, or order that another can and should act if he does not wish to 
act. Otherwise this order would be defective and dangerous, as was seen in 
Rome had the authority of the tribunes not been able to oppose the 
obstinacy of those consuls. In the Venetian republic the Great Council 
distributes the honors and profits. It used to happen sometimes that through 
indignation or some false persuasion, the collectivity did not create 
successors to the magistrates of the city and to those who administered the 
empire outside. That was a very great disorder, because in a stroke both the 
subject lands and the city itself lacked its own legitimate judges; nor could 
anything be obtained unless the collectivity of that council were either 
satisfied or undeceived. That inconvenience would have reduced the city to 
a bad condition if it had not been provided for by the prudent citizens, who, 
taking a convenient opportunity, made a law that all the magistracies that 
are or may be inside and outside of the city may never be vacated except 


when substitutes and successors have been made. So the occasion for being 
able to stop public actions with danger to the republic was taken away from 
that council. 


«51 ft 

A Republic or a Prince Should Make a 
Show of Doing through Liberality What 
Necessity Constrains Him to Do 

[1] Prudent men gain favor for themselves out of affairs, always and in their 
every action even though necessity constrains them to do them in any case. 
This prudence was well used by the Roman Senate when it decided that a 
public wage should be given to men serving in the military, who were 
accustomed to serve in the military on their own. But since the Senate saw 
that it could not make war for long in that mode, and because of this it was 
unable either to besiege towns or to lead armies far away, and since it 
judged that it was necessary to do both the one and the other, it decided 
that the said stipends should be given out. But it did it so that it gained favor 
for itself out of what necessity constrained it to do. This present was so 
acceptable to the plebs that Rome went upside down with joy, as it 
appeared to them a great benefit that they never hoped to have and they 
would never have sought by themselves. Although the tribunes did their best 
to suppress this favor, showing that it was a thing that burdened—not 
relieved—the plebs, since it was necessary to lay taxes to pay for this wage, 
nonetheless they could not do so much that the plebs did not accept it. That 
was increased too by the Senate through the mode in which they distributed 
the taxes, for the heaviest and greatest were those they laid on the nobility, 
and they were the first that were paid. 1 



«52 M 

To Repress the Insolence of One Individual 
Who Rises Up in a Powerful Republic, 
There Is No More Secure and Less 
Scandalous Mode Than to Anticipate the 
Ways by Which He Conies to That Power 

[1] One sees by the discourse written above how much credit the nobility 
acquired with the plebs by the demonstrations read of, which were to its 
benefit both from the wage it had ordered and also from the mode of laying 
the taxes. 1 If the nobility had been maintained in this order, every tumult in 
that city would have been removed and the credit that the tribunes had with 
the plebs would have been taken from them and, by consequence, their 
authority. And truly, in a republic, and especially in those that are corrupt, 
the ambition of any citizen cannot be opposed with a better, less 
scandalous, and easier mode than to anticipate the ways that he is seen to 
tread to arrive at the rank that he plans. If that mode had been used against 
Cosimo de’ Medici, it would have been a very much better policy for his 
adversaries than to drive him out of Florence. For if those citizens who vied 
with him had taken his style of favoring the people, they would have come 
without tumult and without violence to take out of his hands those arms of 
which he most availed himself. 2 

[2] Piero Soderini had made a reputation for himself in the city of Florence 
with this only: favoring the collectivity. That gave him a reputation in the 
collectivity as a lover of the freedom of the city. And truly, to the citizens 
who bore envy for his greatness, it was much easier, and was a thing much 
more honest, less dangerous, and less harmful for the republic, to anticipate 
him in the ways with which he made himself great than to wish to put 
themselves up against him so that all the rest of the republic was ruined 
with his ruin. For if they had removed from his hands the arms with which 
he made himself mighty (which they could easily have done), they would 


have been able to oppose him without suspicion and without any hesitation 
in all councils and in all public decisions. If someone replied that if the 
citizens who hated Piero made an error by not anticipating him in the ways 
with which he gained reputation for himself among the people, Piero too 
came to make an error by not anticipating the ways by which those 
adversaries of his made him fear, for which Piero merits an excuse, whether 
because it was difficult for him to do so or because they were not honest to 
him, yet the ways with which he was hurt were the favoring of the Medici, 
with which favors they beat him down and in the end ruined him. Piero, 
therefore, could not honestly take this part because he could not with good 
fame destroy the freedom for which he had been posted guard. Then, since 
these favors could not be done in secret and at a stroke, they were very 
dangerous for Piero, for if he had been exposed as a friend to the Medici, 
he would have become suspect and hateful to the people. Hence his enemies 
would have had much more occasion for crushing him than they had at first. 

[3] Therefore, in every policy men should consider its defects and dangers 
and not adopt it if there is more of the dangerous than the useful in it, 
notwithstanding that a judgment had been given of it that conforms to their 
decision. For when they do otherwise, it would happen to them in this case 
as it happened to Tully, 3 who in wishing to take away favor from Mark 
Antony increased it for him. For when Mark Antony had been judged an 
enemy of the Senate, and had gathered together that great army in good 
part from the soldiers who had followed the party of Caesar, Tully, so as to 
take those soldiers from him, urged the Senate to give reputation to 
Octavian and to send him with Hirtius and Pansa, the consuls, against Mark 
Antony, alleging that as soon as the soldiers who were following Mark 
Antony heard the name of Octavian, nephew of Caesar, and that he was 
calling himself Caesar, they would leave him and would take the side of the 
latter; so when Mark Antony was left stripped of favor, it would be easy to 
crush him. This affair came out all to the contrary, for Mark Antony gained 
Octavian to himself; and he, having left Tully and the Senate, sided with 
him. This affair was the destruction of the party of the aristocrats. That was 
easy to conjecture; nor should that of which Tully persuaded himself have 
been believed, but that name that with so much glory had eliminated its 
enemies and acquired for itself the principate in Rome should have always 
been taken into account; nor should it have been believed that, either from 
his heirs or from his agents, anything could ever be had that would conform 
to the name of freedom. 4 



*$53 ft 

Many Times the People Desires Its Own 

Ruin, Deceived by a False Appearance 1 of 
Good; and That Great Hopes and Mighty 
Promises Easily Move It 

[1] After the city of the Veientes was captured, an opinion entered into the 
Roman people that it would be a useful thing for the city of Rome that half 
the Romans go to inhabit Veii. It was argued that because that city was rich 
in its countryside, full of buildings, and close to Rome, half of the Roman 
citizens could be enriched and not disturb any civil action because of the 
nearness of the site. This thing appeared to the Senate and to the wisest 
Romans so useless and harmful that they freely said they would rather suffer 
death than consent to such a decision. So, as this thing came into dispute, 
the plebs was so much inflamed against the Senate that it would have come 
to arms and blood if the Senate had not made itself a shield of some old and 
esteemed citizens, reverence for whom checked the plebs, which did not 
proceed further with its insolence. 2 Here two things have to be noted. The 
first is that many times, deceived by a false image of good, the people 
desires its own ruin; and if it is not made aware that that is bad and what 
the good is, by someone in whom it has faith, infinite dangers and harms are 
brought into republics. When fate makes the people not have faith in 
someone, as happens at some time after it has been deceived in the past 
either by things or by men, it of necessity comes to ruin. Dante says to this 
purpose in the discourse he makes On Monarchy that many times the people 
cries: “Life!” to its death and “Death!” to its life. 3 From this lack of belief it 
arises that sometimes in republics good policies are not taken up, as was 
said above 4 of the Venetians when, assaulted by so many enemies, they were 
unable to adopt the policy of gaining someone to themselves with the 
restitution of the things they had taken from others (because of which the 


war on them had been started and the league 5 of princes made against 
them) before ruin came. 6 

[2] Therefore, considering what is easy and what is difficult to persuade a 
people of, this distinction can be made: what you have to persuade 
represents first on its face either gain or loss, or truly it appears to be a 
spirited or cowardly policy. And when gain is seen in the things that are put 
before the people, even though there is loss concealed underneath, and when 
it appears spirited, even though there is the ruin of the republic concealed 
underneath, it will always be easy to persuade the multitude of it; and 
likewise it may always be difficult to persuade it of these policies if either 
cowardice or loss might appear, even though safety and gain might be 
concealed underneath. What I have said is confirmed by infinite examples, 
Roman and foreign, modern and ancient. For from this arose the malevolent 
opinion that emerged in Rome about Fabius Maximus, who was unable to 
persuade the Roman people that it would be useful to that republic to 
proceed slowly in that war and to sustain the thrust of Hannibal without 
fighting. For the people judged this policy cowardly and did not see inside it 
the utility that was there, nor did Fabius have reasons enough to 
demonstrate it to them. So much are peoples blinded in these mighty 
opinions that although the Roman people had made the error of giving 
authority to Fabius’s master of the horse to enable it to fight, even though 
Fabius did not wish it, and although because of such authority the Roman 
camp was on the point of being defeated had Fabius not remedied it with 
his prudence, 7 this experience was not enough for it, because it later made 
Varro consul through no merits of his other than to have promised, in all the 
piazzas and all the public places in Rome, to break Hannibal whenever 
authority might be given to him. 8 From this arose the fight and the defeat at 
Cannae, and nearly the ruin of Rome. 9 

[3] I wish to bring up yet another Roman example for this purpose. 
Hannibal had been in Italy eight or ten years, had filled all this province with 
slaughter of Romans, when into the Senate came Marcus Centenius Penula, 
a very vile man (nonetheless he had held some rank in the military), who 
offered that if they gave him authority to enable him to make an army of 
voluntary men wherever he wished in Italy, he would in a very brief time 
give them Hannibal, taken or killed. To the Senate his request appeared 
rash; nonetheless, thinking that if it were denied to him and his asking later 
became known among the people, there might arise from it some tumult, 


envy, and disfavor toward the senatorial order, they conceded it to him, 
wishing rather to put in danger all those who followed him than to make 
new indignation rise up in the people, since they knew how such a policy 
was on the point of being accepted and how difficult it would be to dissuade 
from it. Thus he went to meet Hannibal with a disordered and unseemly 
multitude, and no sooner did he reach the encounter than he was defeated 
and killed with all those who followed him. 10 

[4] In Greece, in the city of Athens, Nicias, a very grave and prudent man, 
was never able to persuade that people that it might not be good to go to 
assault Sicily; so when that decision was taken against the wish of the wise, 
the entire ruin of Athens followed from it. 11 When Scipio was made consul 
and desired the province of Africa, promising the entire ruin of Carthage— 
to which the Senate did not agree because of the judgment of Fabius 
Maximus—he threatened to propose it to the people, as one who knew very 
well how much such decisions please peoples. 12 

[5] Examples from our city could be given to this purpose: as it was when 
Messer Ercole Bentivoglio, governor of the Florentine troops, went together 
with Antonio Giacomini to camp at Pisa after they had defeated 
Bartolommeo d’Alviano at San Vincenzo. This enterprise was decided by 
the people on the mighty promises of Messer Ercole, even though many 
wise citizens blamed it; nonetheless, they did not have a remedy for it, as 
they were driven by the universal will that was founded upon the mighty 
promises of the governor. 13 I say, thus, that there is no easier way to make a 
republic where the people has authority come to ruin than to put it into 
mighty enterprises, for where the people is of any moment, they are always 
accepted; nor will there be any remedy for whoever is of another opinion. 
But if the ruin of the city arises from this, there arises also, and more often, 
the particular ruin of citizens who are posted to such enterprises, for since 
the people had presupposed victory, when loss comes it accuses neither 
fortune nor the impotence of whoever has governed but his malevolence and 
ignorance; and most often it kills or imprisons or confines him, as happened 
to infinite Carthaginian captains and to many Athenians. Nor does any 
victory that they have had in the past help them, because the present loss 
cancels everything, as happened to our Antonio Giacomini: not having 
captured Pisa as the people had presupposed for itself and he had promised, 
he came to such popular disgrace that notwithstanding his infinite past good 
works, he survived more by the humanity of those who had authority over 
him than by any other cause that would defend him among the people. 



«54 M 

How Much Authority a Grave Man May 
Have to Check an Excited Multitude 

[1] The second notable point on the text cited in the above chapter is that 
nothing is so apt to check an excited multitude as is the reverence for some 
grave man of authority who puts himself against it. Nor does Virgil say 
without cause: “Then if they happen to look on some man grave with piety 
and merits, they are silent and stand by with open ears.” 1 Therefore he who 
is posted to an army or who finds himself in a city where tumult arises 
should represent himself before it with the greatest grace and as honorably 
as he can, putting around himself the ensigns of the rank he holds so as to 
make himself more reverend. A few years ago Florence was divided into 
two factions, Fratesca and Arrabbiata as they were called. 2 And coming to 
arms, the Frateschi were overcome, among whom was Pagolantonio 
Soderini, a very highly reputed citizen in those times. As the armed people 
in those tumults were going to him at his home to sack it, Messer 
Francesco, his brother, then bishop of Volterra and today cardinal, by fate 
found himself at home. Having heard the noise and seen the disturbance, he 
at once put on his most honorable clothes and over them the episcopal 
rochet, put himself against those who were armed, and with presence and 
with words stopped them. That affair was noted and celebrated through all 
the city for many days. I conclude, thus, that there is no more steady nor 
more necessary remedy for checking an excited multitude than the presence 
of one man who because of his presence appears and is reverend. Thus, to 
return to the text cited before, one sees with how much obstinacy the 
Roman plebs accepted the policy of going to Veii because it judged it 
useful; nor did it recognize the harm that was there underneath; and since 
very many tumults were arising from it, scandals would have arisen if the 
Senate with its grave men full of reverence had not checked their fury. 3 


«55 M 

How Easily Things May Be Conducted in 
Those Cities in Which the Multitude Is Not 
Corrupt; and That Where There Is 
Equality, a Principality Cannot Be Made, 
and Where There Is Not, a Republic 
Cannot Be Made 

[1] Though it has been very much discussed above 1 what is to be feared and 
hoped from corrupt cities, nonetheless it does not appear to me outside the 
purpose to consider a decision of the Senate regarding the vow that 
Camillus had made to give the tenth part of the booty of the Veientes to 
Apollo. Since that booty had come into the hands of the Roman plebs and 
they could not otherwise supervise the account of it, the Senate made an 
edict that each should present in public the tenth part of what he had taken 
as booty. Although that decision did not take place, since the Senate later 
took another mode, and by other ways satisfied Apollo to the satisfaction of 
the plebs, 2 nonetheless by such a decision one sees how much the Senate 
trusted in the goodness [of the plebs] and that it judged that no one would 
not present exactly all that had been commanded of him by such an edict. 
On the other side, one sees that the plebs thought not of defrauding the 
edict in any part by giving less than it owed, but of freeing itself from it by 
showing open indignation. This example, with many others that have been 
brought up above, shows how much goodness and how much religion were 
in that people, and how much good was to be hoped from it. 

[2] And truly, where there is not this goodness, nothing good can be hoped 
for, as it cannot be hoped for in the provinces that in these times are seen to 
be corrupt, as is Italy above all others; and France and Spain also retain part 
of such corruption. If as many disorders as arise in Italy are not seen every 
day in those provinces, it derives not so much from the goodness of the 


peoples, which is in good part lacking, as from having one king that 
maintains them united not only through his virtue but through the order of 
those kingdoms, which is not yet spoiled. In the province of Germany this 
goodness and this religion are still seen to be great in those peoples, which 
makes many republics there live free, and they observe their laws so that no 
one from outside or inside dares to seize them. 3 To show that it is true that 
a good part of that ancient goodness reigns in them, I wish to give an 
example such as that given above of the Senate and the Roman plebs. When 
it occurs to those republics that they need to spend some quantity of money 
for the public account, they are used to having those magistrates or councils 
that have authority for it assess on all the inhabitants of the city one percent 
or two of what each has of value. When such a decision has been made, 
each presents himself before the collectors of such a duty according to the 
order of the town; and having first taken an oath to pay the fitting amount, 
he throws into a chest so designated what according to his conscience it 
appears to him he ought to pay. Of this payment there is no witness except 
him who pays. Hence it can be conjectured how much goodness and how 
much religion are yet in those men. It should be reckoned that each pays the 
true amount, for if it were not paid, that impost would not bring in the 
quantity that they planned on according to the former ones that they had 
been accustomed to collect. When it was not brought in, the fraud would be 
recognized, and when recognized, another mode than this would have been 
taken. Such goodness is so much more to be admired in these times as it is 
rarer; indeed one sees it remaining only in that province. 

[3] This arises from two things: one, not having had great intercourse 4 with 
neighbors, for neither have the latter gone to their home nor have they gone 
to someone else’s home, because they have been content with those goods, 
to live by those foods, to dress with those woolens that the country provides. 
Hence the cause of every intercourse 5 and the beginning of every corruption 
has been taken away, for they have not been able to pick up either French or 
Spanish or Italian customs, which nations all together are the corruption of 
the world. 6 The other cause is that those republics in which a political and 
uncorrupt way of life is maintained do not endure that any citizen of theirs 
either be or live in the usage of a gentleman; indeed, they maintain among 
themselves an even equality, and to the lords and gentlemen who are in that 
province they are very hostile. If by chance some fall into their hands, they 
kill them as the beginnings of corruption and the cause of every scandal. 


[4] To clarify this name of gentlemen such as it may be, I say that those are 
called gentlemen who live idly in abundance from the returns of their 
possessions without having any care either for cultivation or for other 
necessary trouble in living. Such as these are pernicious in every republic 
and in every province, but more pernicious are those who, beyond the 
aforesaid fortunes, command from a castle and have subjects who obey 
them. Of these two species of men the kingdom of Naples, the town of 
Rome, the Romagna, and Lombardy are full. From this it arises that in these 
provinces no republic or political way of life has ever emerged, for such 
kinds of men are altogether hostile to every civilization. To wish to 
introduce a republic into provinces made in a like mode would not be 
possible; but if anyone were arbiter of them and wished to reorder them, 
there would be no other way than to make a kingdom there. The reason is 
this: that where there is so much corrupt matter that the laws are not 
enough to check it, together with them greater force is needed to give order 
there—a kingly hand that with absolute and excessive power puts a check 
on the excessive ambition and corruption of the powerful. This reason is 
verified with the example of Tuscany, where one sees three republics— 
Florence, Siena, and Lucca—have long been in a small space of territory; 
and the other cities of that province are seen to be servile in such a mode 
that one sees that with spirit and with order they would maintain or would 
like to maintain their freedom. All has arisen because in that province there 
is no lord of a castle and no or very few gentlemen, but there is so much 
equality that a civil way of life would easily be introduced there by a 
prudent man having knowledge of the ancient civilizations. But its 
misfortune has been so great that up to these times it has not run into 7 any 
man who has been able or known how to do it. 

[5] Thus this conclusion may be drawn from this discourse: that he who 
wishes to make a republic where there are very many gentlemen cannot do 
it unless he first eliminates all of them; and that he who is where there is 
very much equality and wishes to make a kingdom or a principality will 
never be able to make it unless he draws from that equality many of 
ambitious and unquiet spirit and makes them gentlemen in fact, and not in 
name, granting them castles and possessions and giving them favor in 
belongings and men. 8 So, placed in the midst of them, through them he 
maintains his power; and they, through him, maintain their ambition. The 
others are constrained to endure the yoke that force, and never anything 
else, can make them endure. Since there is proportion by this way from 


whoever forces to whoever is forced, men stand firm, each in his orders. 
Because the making of a republic from a province suited to be a kingdom, 
and the making of a kingdom from one suited to be a republic, is matter for 
a man who is rare in brain and authority, there have been many who have 
wished to do it and few who have known how to conduct it. For the 
greatness of the thing partly terrifies men, partly impedes them so that they 
fail in the first beginnings. 

[6] I believe that the experience of the Venetian republic, in which none 
can have any rank except those who are gentlemen, will appear contrary to 
this opinion of mine that where there are gentlemen a republic cannot be 
ordered. To which it may be replied that this example does not impugn it 
because in that republic they are gentlemen more in name than in fact. For 
they do not have great incomes from possessions, since their great riches are 
founded in trade and movable things; and besides, none of them holds a 
castle or has any jurisdiction over men. But that name of gentlemen among 
them is a name of dignity and reputation, without being founded upon any 
of those things that make them be called gentlemen in other cities. As the 
other republics have all their divisions under various names, so Venice is 

divided into the gentlemen and the people, 9 and they wish that the former 
have, or are able to have, all the honors; the others are altogether excluded 
from them. That does not produce disorder in that town for the reasons 
given another time. 10 Thus he constitutes a republic where a great equality 
exists or has been made, and on the contrary orders a principality where 
there is great inequality; otherwise he will produce a thing without 
proportion and hardly lasting. 



Before Great Accidents Occur in a City or 
in a Province, Signs Come That Forecast 

Them, or Men Who Predict Them 

[1] Whence it arises I do not know, but one sees by ancient and by modern 
examples that no grave accident in a city or in a province ever comes unless 
it has been foretold either by diviners or by revelations or by prodigies or by 
other heavenly signs. So as not to go far from my home to prove this, 
everyone knows how much had been foretold by Friar Girolamo Savonarola 
before the coming of King Charles VIII of France into Italy, 2 and that, 
beyond this, it was said throughout Tuscany there were men-at-arms heard 
in the air and seen above Arezzo, who were fighting together. 3 Everyone 
knows, beyond this, that before the death of Lorenzo de’ Medici the Elder, 
the cathedral was struck in its highest part by a heavenly dart, with very 
great destruction for that building. 4 Everyone knows too that soon before 
Piero Soderini, who had been made gonfalonier for life by the Florentine 
people, was expelled and deprived of his rank, the very palace itself was 
struck by a thunderbolt. 5 Beyond this, more examples could be brought up 
that to escape tedium I shall leave out. I shall narrate only what Titus Livy 
says before the coming of the French to Rome; that is, that one Marcus 
Cedicius, a plebeian, reported to the Senate that in the middle of the night 
as he was passing through the Via Nuova he had heard a voice greater than 
human that admonished him that he should report to the magistrates that 
the French were coming to Rome. 6 The cause of this I believe is to be 
discoursed of and interpreted by a man who has knowledge of things natural 
and supernatural, which we do not have. Yet it could be, as some 
philosopher would have it, 7 that since this air is full of intelligences that 
foresee future things by their natural virtues, and they have compassion for 
men, they warn them with like signs so that they can prepare themselves for 
defense. Yet however this may be, one sees it thus to be the truth, and that 


always after such accidents extraordinary and new things supervene in 


«57 M 

The Plebs Together Is Mighty, by Itself 


[1] When the ruin of their fatherland occurred because of the passage of the 
French, many Romans had gone to inhabit Veii against the institution and 
order of the Senate. So as to remedy their disorder, it commanded by its 
public edicts that everyone return to inhabit Rome by a certain time and 
under certain penalties. At first jokes were made of such edicts by those 
against whom they applied; then, when the time to obey drew near, all 
obeyed. Titus Livy says these words: “From being ferocious together, when 
isolated, each with his own fear, they became obedient.” 1 And truly, the 
nature of a multitude in this part cannot be shown better than is 
demonstrated in this text. For the multitude is often bold in speaking 
against the decisions of their prince; then, when they look the penalty in the 
face, not trusting one another, they run to obey. So one sees certainly that 
no great account should be taken of what a people says about its good or 
bad disposition if you are ordered so as to be able to maintain it if it is well 
disposed, and to provide that it should not hurt you if it is badly disposed. 
This is to be understood for those bad dispositions that peoples have, arising 
from some cause other than that either they have lost their freedom or their 
prince is loved by them and is still alive. For the bad dispositions that arise 
from these causes are formidable above everything and have need of great 
remedies to check them; [the people’s] other bad dispositions are easy if it 
does not have heads with whom to seek refuge. For on one side there is 
nothing more formidable than an unshackled multitude without a head, and, 
on the other side, there is nothing weaker; for even though it has arms in 
hand, it is easy to put it down provided that you have a stronghold that 
enables you to escape the first thrust. For when the spirits of men are cooled 
a little and each sees he has to return to his home, they begin to doubt 
themselves and to think of their safety, either by taking flight or by coming 
to accord. Therefore a multitude so excited, wishing to escape these 
dangers, has at once to make from among itself a head to correct it, to hold 


it united, and to think about its defense, as did the Roman plebs when it left 
Rome after the death of Virginia and made twenty tribunes among them to 
save themselves. 2 If it does not do this, what Titus Livy says in the words 
written above always happens to them: that all together are mighty, and 
when each begins later to think of his own danger, he becomes cowardly 
and weak. 


#?58 n 

The Multitude Is Wiser and More 
Constant Than a Prince 

[1] That nothing is more vain and inconstant than the multitude so our 
Titus Livy, like all other historians, affirms. 1 For in narrating the actions of 
men, it often occurs that the multitude is seen to have condemned someone 
to death, and then has wept for the same and greatly desired him, as the 
Roman people is seen to have done for Manlius Capitolinus, whom it had 
condemned to death, then greatly desired. The words of the author are 
these: “After there was no danger from him, desire for him soon took hold 
of the people.” 2 Elsewhere, when he shows the incidents that arose in 
Syracuse after the death of Hieronymus, grandson of Hiero, 3 he says: “This 
is the nature of the multitude: either it serves humbly or it dominates 
proudly.” 4 I do not know if I shall take upon myself a hard task 1 full of so 
much difficulty that it may suit me either to abandon it with shame or 
continue it with disapproval, since I wish to defend a thing that, as I said, 
has been accused by all the writers. But however it may be, I do not judge 
nor shall I ever judge it to be a defect to defend any opinion with reasons, 
without wishing to use either authority or force for it. 

[2] I say, thus, that all men particularly, and especially princes, can be 
accused of that defect of which the writers accuse the multitude; for 
everyone who is not regulated by laws would make the same errors as the 
unshackled multitude. This can easily be known, because there are and have 
been very many princes, and the good and wise among them have been few. 
I speak of princes who have been able to break the bridle that can correct 
them, among whom are not those kings who arose in Egypt when, in that 
most ancient antiquity, the province was governed with laws; 6 nor those 
who arose in Sparta; nor those who in our times arise in France, a kingdom 
that is moderated more by laws than any other kingdom of which 
knowledge is had in our times. These kings who arose under such 
constitutions are not to be put in that number of which the nature of every 


man by himself has to be considered to see if he is like the multitude. For 
one should put in the comparison a multitude regulated by laws as they are; 
and the same goodness that we see to be in them will be found to be in it, 
and it will be seen neither to dominate proudly nor to serve humbly—as was 
the Roman people, which never served humbly nor dominated proudly 
while the republic lasted uncorrupt; indeed, with its orders and magistrates, 
it held its rank honorably. When it was necessary to move against someone 
powerful, it did so, as may be seen in Manlius, in the Ten, and in others who 
sought to crush it; and when it was necessary to obey the dictators and the 
consuls for the public safety, it did so. If the Roman people desired Manlius 
Capitolinus after he was dead, it is no marvel; for it desired his virtues, 
which had been such that the memory of them brought compassion to 
everyone. They would have had force to produce the same effect in a prince, 
because it is the verdict of all the writers that virtue is praised and admired 
also in one’s enemies; and if Manlius had been resuscitated among so much 
desire, the people of Rome would have given the same judgment on him as 
it did when it condemned him to death soon after it had dragged him from 
prison. 7 Notwithstanding that, some princes may be seen who, held to be 
wise, have had some person killed and then very highly desired him, as 
Alexander did Clitus 8 and other friends of his and Herod did Marianne. 9 
But what our historian says of the nature of the multitude he does not say of 
that which is regulated by laws, as was the Roman, but of the unshackled, as 
was the Syracusan, which made those errors that infuriated and unshackled 
men make, as Alexander the Great and Herod made in the given cases. 
Therefore the nature of the multitude is no more to be faulted than that of 
princes, because all err equally when all can err without respect. Beyond 
what I have said, there are very many examples of this, both among the 
Roman emperors and among the other tyrants and princes, where so much 
inconstancy and so much variation of life are seen as may ever be found in 
any multitude. 

[3] I conclude, thus, against the common opinion that says that peoples, 
when they are princes, are varying, mutable, and ungrateful, as I affirm that 
these sins are not otherwise in them than in particular princes. Someone 
accusing peoples and princes together might be able to say the truth, but in 
excepting princes, he would be deceived; for a people that commands and is 
well ordered will be stable, prudent, and grateful no otherwise than a prince, 
or better than a prince, even one esteemed wise. On the other side, a prince 
unshackled from the laws will be more ungrateful, varying, and imprudent 


than a people. The variation in their proceeding arises not from a diverse 
nature—because it is in one mode in all, and if there is advantage of good, 
it is in the people—but from having more or less respect for the laws within 
which both live. Whoever considers the Roman people will see it to have 
been hostile for four hundred years to the kingly name and a lover of the 
glory and common good of its fatherland; he will see so many examples of it 
that testify to both one thing and the other. If anyone cites to me the 
ingratitude that it used against Scipio, I answer with what was discoursed 
on this matter above at length, 10 where it was shown that peoples are less 
ungrateful than princes. But as to prudence and stability, I say that a people 
is more prudent, more stable, and of better judgment than a prince. Not 
without cause may the voice of a people be likened to that of God; for one 
sees a universal opinion produce marvelous effects in its forecasts, so that it 
appears to foresee its ill and its good by a hidden virtue. As to judging 
things, if a people hears two orators who incline to different sides, when 
they are of equal virtue, very few times does one see it not take up the better 
opinion, and not persuaded of the truth that it hears. If it errs in mighty 
things or those that appear useful, as is said above, 11 often a prince errs too 
in his own passions, which are many more than those of peoples. It is also 
seen in its choices of magistrates to make a better choice by far than a 
prince; nor will a people ever be persuaded that it is good to put up for 
dignities an infamous man of corrupt customs—of which a prince is 
persuaded easily and by a thousand ways. A people is seen to begin to hold a 
thing in horror and to stay with that opinion for many centuries, which is 
not seen in a prince. Of both these two things I wish the Roman people by 
its testimony to suffice for me; in so many hundreds of years, in so many 
choices of consuls and tribunes, it did not make four choices of which it 
might have to repent. As I said, it held the kingly name so much in hatred 
that no obligation to any of its citizens who might try for that name could 
enable him to escape the proper penalties. Beyond this, one sees that cities 
in which peoples are princes make exceeding increases in a very brief time, 
and much greater than those that have always been made under a prince, as 
did Rome after the expulsion of the kings and Athens after it was freed from 
Pisistratus. That cannot arise from anything other than that governments of 
peoples are better than those of princes. Nor do I wish my opinion to be 
opposed by all that our historian says of it in the text cited before and in any 
other whatever; for if all the disorders of peoples are reviewed, 12 all the 
disorders of princes, all the glories of peoples, and all those of princes, the 


people will be seen to be by far superior in goodness and in glory. If princes 
are superior to peoples in ordering laws, forming civil lives, and ordering 
new statutes and orders, peoples are so much superior in maintaining things 
ordered that without doubt they attain the glory of those who order them. 

[4] In sum, to conclude this matter, I say that the states of princes have 
lasted very long, the states of republics have lasted very long, and both have 
had need of being regulated by the laws. For a prince who can do what he 
wishes is crazy; a people that can do what it wishes is not wise. If, thus, one 
is reasoning about a prince obligated to the laws and about a people fettered 
by them, more virtue will always be seen in the people than in the prince; if 
one reasons about both as unshackled, fewer errors will be seen in the 
people than in the prince—and those lesser and having greater remedies. 
For a licentious and tumultuous people can be spoken to by a good man, and 
it can easily be returned to the good way; there is no one who can speak to a 
wicked prince, nor is there any remedy other than steel. From that can be 
made a conjecture of the importance of the illness of the one and the other: 
that if to cure the illness of the people words are enough, and for the 
prince’s steel is needed, there will never be anyone who will not judge that 
where a greater cure is needed there are greater errors. When a people is 
quite unshackled, the craziness it does is not feared, nor is present evil 
feared, but what can arise from it, since in the midst of such confusion a 
tyrant can arise. But with wicked princes the contrary happens: the present 
evil is feared and the future is hoped for, since men persuade themselves 
that his wicked life can make freedom emerge. So you 3 see the difference 
between the one and the other, which is as much as between things that are 
and things that have to be. The cruelties of the multitude are against 
whoever they fear will seize the common good; those of a prince are against 
whoever he fears will seize his own good. But the opinion against peoples 
arises because everyone speaks ill of peoples without fear and freely, even 
while they reign; princes are always spoken of with a thousand fears and a 
thousand hesitations. Nor does it appear to me outside the purpose, since 
this matter draws it from me, to dispute in the following chapter about 
which confederations can be trusted more: those made with a republic or 
those made with a prince. 


«59 M 

Which Confederation or Other League 
Can Be More Trusted, That Made with a 
Republic or That Made with a Prince 

[1] Because it occurs every day that one prince makes a league and a 
friendship together with another, or one republic with another, and 
similarly too confederation and accord are contracted between a republic 
and a prince, it appears to me to be examined which faith is more stable, 
and of which more account should be taken: that of a republic or that of a 
prince. Examining everything, I believe that in many cases they are similar, 
and in some there is some lack of conformity. I believe, therefore, that 
accords made with you by force will not be observed either by a prince or by 
a republic; I believe that if fear for the state comes, both will break faith 
with you so as not to lose it, and will practice ingratitude to you. Demetrius, 
who was called the capturer of cities, had conferred infinite benefits on the 
Athenians; then it occurred that after he was defeated by his enemies and 
was taking refuge in Athens as in a friendly city obligated to him, he was not 
received by it, which grieved him very much more than the loss of his 
troops and army had done. 1 Pompey, defeated as he was by Caesar in 
Thessaly, took refuge in Egypt with Ptolemy, who in the past had been put 
back in his kingdom by him; and he was killed by him. 2 Such things are 
seen to have had the same cause; nonetheless, more humanity was used and 
less injury done by the republic than by the prince. Where there is fear, 
therefore, will be found the same faith in fact. If either a republic or a 
prince will be found that expects to be ruined so as to observe faith with 
you, this too can arise from similar causes. As to the prince, it can very well 
occur that he is friendly with a powerful prince who he can hope with time 
may restore him in his principality, if indeed he does not have opportunity 
then to defend him; or truly that, having followed him as a partisan, he does 
not believe he will find either faith or accord with that one’s enemy. Those 
princes of the realm of Naples who have followed the French party 3 have 


had this fate. 4 As to republics, Saguntum in Spain, which expected ruin for 
having followed the Roman party, had this fate; 5 and so did Florence, for 
having followed the French party in 1512. 6 When everything has been 
computed, I believe that in cases in which there is urgent danger, some 
stability will be found more in republics than in princes. For although 
republics have the same intent and the same wish as a prince, their slow 
motion will make them always have more trouble in resolving than the 
prince, and because of this have more trouble in breaking faith than he. 
Confederations are broken for utility. In this, republics are by far more 
observant of accords than are princes. Examples could be brought up in 
which the least utility 7 has made a prince break faith and a great utility has 
not made a republic break faith. Such was the policy that Themistocles 
proposed to the Athenians, to whom he said in the assembly that he had a 
counsel that would be of great utility to their fatherland, but he could not 
tell it because he could not disclose it, for by disclosing it the opportunity to 
act upon it would be taken away. Hence the people of Athens chose 
Aristides, to whom the affair might be communicated, and then it would 
decide about it according as it appeared to him. Themistocles showed him 
that the fleet 8 of all Greece, though it remained under their faith, was in a 
spot where it could easily be gained or destroyed, which would make the 
Athenians wholly arbiters of that province. Hence Aristides reported to the 
people that the policy of Themistocles was very useful but very dishonest, 
for which the people wholly refused it. 9 Philip the Macedonian would not 
have done that nor the other princes who have sought and gained more 
utility 10 by breaking faith than with any other mode. I do not speak of 
breaking pacts for some cause of nonobservance, an ordinary thing; but I do 
speak of those that are broken for extraordinary causes, in which I believe, 
because of the things said, the people makes lesser errors than the prince, 
and because of this can be trusted more than the prince. 



«60 ft 

That the Consulate and Any Other 
Magistracy Whatever in Rome Was Given 
without Respect to Age 

[1] One sees through the order of the history that after the consulate came 
to the plebs, the Roman republic conceded it to its citizens without respect 
to age or to blood, and even that respect to age was never in Rome; but it 
always went out to find virtue, whether it was in the young or in the old. 
That is seen through the testimony of Valerius Corvinus, who was made 
consul at twenty-three years; 1 and the said Valerius, speaking to his soldiers, 
said that the consulate was “the reward of virtue, not of blood.” 2 Whether 
that thing was well considered or not would be very much to be disputed. 
As to blood, this was conceded through necessity; and the necessity that was 
in Rome would be in every city that wished to produce the effects that 
Rome produced, as has been said another time; 3 for men cannot be given 
trouble without a reward, nor can the hope of attaining the reward be taken 
away from them without danger. Therefore it was fitting at an early hour 
that the plebs have hope of gaining the consulate, and it was fed a bit with 
this hope without having it; then the hope was not enough, and it was fitting 
that it come to the effect. But the city that does not put its plebs to work in 
any glorious affair can treat it in its own mode, as is disputed elsewhere; 4 
the one that wishes to do what Rome did does not have to make this 
distinction. Given that it is thus, there is no reply to that [lack of respect] 
for time. It is even necessary, for in choosing a youth for a rank that has 
need of the prudence of the old, it must be that some very notable action 
makes him reach that rank, since the multitude has to choose him for it. 
When a youth is of so much virtue that he makes himself known in some 
notable thing, it would be a very harmful thing for the city not to be able to 
avail itself of him then, and for it to have to wait until that vigor of spirit 
and that readiness grow old with him, which his fatherland could have 


availed itself of at that age, as Rome availed itself of Valerius Corvinus, 
Scipioy Pompey , 6 and many others who triumphed very young. 


Second Book 


[1] Men always praise ancient times—but not always reasonably—and 
accuse the present; they are partisans of past things in such a mode that they 
celebrate not only those ages known to them through the memory that 
writers have left of them, but also those that once they are old they 
remember having seen in their youth. When this opinion of theirs is false, 
as it most often is, I am persuaded that the causes that lead them to this 
deception are various. The first I believe to be that the truth of ancient 
things is not altogether understood and that most often the things that would 
bring infamy to those times are concealed and others that could bring forth 
their glory are rendered magnificent and very expansive. For most writers 
obey the fortune of the victors, so that, to make their victories glorious, they 
not only increase what has been virtuously worked by them but also render 
illustrious the actions of their enemies. They do it so that whoever is born 
later in whichever of the two provinces, the victorious or the defeated, has 
cause to marvel at those men and those times and is forced to praise and 
love them most highly. Besides this, as men hate things either from fear or 
from envy, two very powerful causes of hatred come to be eliminated in 
past things since they cannot offend you and do not give you cause to envy 
them. But the contrary happens with those things that are managed and 
seen. Since the entire knowledge of them is not in any part concealed from 
you, and, together with the good, you know many other things in them that 
displease you, you are forced to judge them much inferior to ancient things, 
even though the present may in truth deserve much more glory and fame 
than they. I am not reasoning about things pertaining to the arts, which have 
so much clarity in themselves that the times can take away or give them 
little more glory than they may deserve in themselves, but am speaking of 
those pertaining to the life and customs of men, of which such clear 
testimonies are not seen. 

[2] I reply, therefore, that the custom written about above of praising and 
blaming is true, but it is not at all always true that to do so is to err. For it is 
necessary that they sometimes judge the truth, for since human things are 
always in motion, either they ascend or they descend. A city or a province is 
seen to be ordered for the political way of life by some excellent man and to 
go on for a time, always increasing toward the best by the virtue of that 
orderer. He who is born then, in such a state, and praises ancient times 


more than modern deceives himself; and his deception is caused by the 
things that were said above. But they who are born later in that city or 
province, when the time has come for it to descend toward the worse side, 
do not deceive themselves then. And, in thinking about how these things 
proceed, I judge the world always to have been in the same mode and there 
to have been as much good as wicked in it. But the wicked and the good 
vary from province to province, as is seen by one who has knowledge of 
those ancient kingdoms, which varied from one to another because of the 
variation of customs, though the world remained the same. There was this 
difference only: that where it had first placed its virtue in Assyria, it put it in 
Media, then in Persia, until it came to be in Italy and Rome. 1 And if no 
empire followed after the Roman Empire that might have endured and in 
which the world might have kept its virtue together, it is seen nonetheless to 
be scattered in many nations where they lived virtuously, such as was the 
kingdom of the Franks, the kingdom of the Turks, that of the sultan, and the 
peoples of Germany today—and that Saracen sect earlier, which did so 
many great things and seized so much of the world after it destroyed the 
eastern Roman Empire. The virtue that is desired and is praised with true 
praise has thus been in all these provinces after the Romans were ruined, 
and in all these sects, and still is in some part of them. And one who is born 
there and praises past times more than the present could be deceived. But 
whoever is born in Italy and in Greece and has not become either an 
ultramontane 2 in Italy or a Turk in Greece has reason to blame his times 
and to praise the others, for in the latter there are very many things that 
make them marvelous and in the former there is nothing that recompenses 
them for every extreme misery, infamy, and reproach—there is no 
observance of religion, of laws, and of the military but they are stained with 
every type of filth. 3 And these vices are so much more detestable as they are 
in those who sit as tribunals, command everyone, and wish to be adored. 

[3] But returning to our reasoning, I say that if the judgment of men is 
corrupt in judging which is better—the present epoch or the ancient—in 
those things of which, because of their antiquity, it could not have perfect 
knowledge as it has of its own times, it should not be corrupted among the 
old in judging the times of their youth and old age, since they have known 
and seen the former and the latter equally. This would be true if men were 
of the same judgment and had the same appetites through all the times of 
their life; but since these vary even if the times do not vary, they cannot 
appear the same to men, who have other appetites, other delights, and other 


considerations in old age than in youth. Since men when they get old lack 
force and grow in judgment and prudence, it is necessary that those things 
that appear to them endurable and good during youth turn out unendurable 
and bad when they get old; and whereas for this they should accuse their 
judgment, they accuse the times. Besides this, human appetites are 
insatiable, for since from nature they have the ability and the wish to desire 
all things and from fortune the ability to achieve few of them, there 
continually results from this a discontent in human minds and a disgust with 
the things they possess. This makes them blame the present times, praise the 
past, and desire the future, even if they are not moved to do this by any 
reasonable cause. I do not know thus if I deserve to be numbered among 
those who deceive themselves, if in these discourses of mine I praise too 
much the times of the ancient Romans and blame ours. And truly, if the 
virtue that then used to reign and the vice that now reigns were not clearer 
than the sun, I would go on speaking with more restraint, fearing falling into 
this deception of which I accuse some. But since the thing is so manifest 
that everyone sees it, I will be spirited in saying manifestly that which I may 
understand of the former and of the latter times, so that the spirits of youths 
who may read these writings of mine can flee the latter and prepare 
themselves to imitate the former at whatever time fortune may give them 
opportunity for it. For it is the duty of a good man to teach others the good 
that you could not work because of the malignity of the times and of 
fortune, so that when many are capable of it, someone of them more loved 
by heaven may be able to work it. And having spoken in the discourses of 
the book above of decisions made by the Romans pertaining to the inside of 
the city, in this [book] we will speak of those that the Roman people made 
pertaining to the increase of its empire. 


Which Was More the Cause of the Empire 
the Romans Acquired, Virtue or Fortune 

[1] Many have had the opinion—and among them Plutarch, a very grave 
writer—that the Roman people in acquiring the empire was favored more 
by fortune than by virtue. Among the other reasons he brings up for it, he 
says that the confession of that people demonstrates that it acknowledged all 
its victories came from fortune, since it built more temples to Fortune than 
to any other god. 1 And Livy seems to come close to this opinion, for it is 
rare that he makes any Roman speak where he tells of virtue and does not 
add fortune to it. I do not wish to confess this thing in any mode, nor do I 
believe even that it can be sustained. For if there has never been a republic 
that has made the profits that Rome did, this arose from there never having 
been a republic that has been ordered so as to be able to acquire as did 
Rome. For the armies’ virtue made them acquire the empire; and the order 
of proceeding and its own mode found by its first lawgiver 2 made them 
maintain what was acquired, as will be narrated extensively below in several 
discourses. They say that never having two very powerful wars combined at 
the same time was the fortune and not the virtue of the Roman people. 3 For 
they did not have war with the Latins until they had so beaten the Samnites 
that that war was made by the Romans in defense of them; 4 they did not 
combat the Tuscans before they had subjugated the Latins and almost 
entirely worn out the Samnites with frequent defeats. 5 For, if two of these 
powers, when they were fresh, had been combined together intact, one can 
easily conjecture without doubt that the ruin of the Roman republic would 
have followed from it. 6 But however this thing arose, it never happened that 
they had two very powerful wars at the same time; rather it always appeared 
either that when one arose the other was eliminated or that when one was 
eliminated the other arose. This can easily be seen from the order of the 
wars made by them: for, leaving aside those that they made before Rome 
was taken by the French, never while they combated the Aequi and the 
Volsci and while these peoples were powerful were other races seen to rise 


up against them. 7 When they were subdued, war arose against the 
Samnites; 8 and although the Latin people rebelled against the Romans 
before that war finished, nonetheless when that rebellion occurred the 
Samnites were in league with Rome and with their armies helped the 
Romans to subdue Latin insolence. 9 When these were subdued, the war of 
Samnium rose again. 10 When because of the many defeats given to the 
Samnites their forces were beaten, the war of the Tuscans arose. When that 
was settled, the Samnites rose up anew during the coming of Pyrrhus into 
Italy. 11 As soon as he was repelled and sent back into Greece, they started 
the first war with the Carthaginians. 12 Not before that war was finished did 
all the French, both on that and on this side of the Alps, conspire against the 
Romans, until between Popolonia and Pisa, where the tower of San 
Vincenzo is today, they were overcome with the greatest slaughter. 13 When 
this war was finished, 14 for a space of twenty years they had wars of not 
much importance, for they did not combat others besides the Ligurians and 
the remnant of the French that was in Lombardy. 13 And thus they stayed 
until the second Carthaginian war arose, which kept Italy occupied for 
sixteen years. 16 When this was finished with the greatest glory, the 
Macedonian War arose; when this was finished, there came that of 
Antiochus and of Asia. 17 After that victory, in all the world there remained 
neither prince nor republic that by itself or together with all could oppose 
the Roman forces. 

[2] But before that last victory, whoever considers well the order of these 
wars and the mode of their proceeding will see inside them a very great 
virtue and prudence mixed with fortune. Therefore, whoever may examine 
the cause of such fortune will easily recover it. For it is a very certain thing 
that as soon as a prince and a people come into so much reputation that 
every neighboring prince and people is afraid for itself to assault it, and 
fears it, it always happens that none of them will ever assault it if not 
necessitated to do so. So it will be almost in the choice of that power to 
make war with whichever of its neighbors it likes, and to quiet the others 
with its devices. And, partly out of respect for its power, partly deceived by 
those modes that it used to put them to sleep, those are easily quieted. 
Those other powers that are distant and do not have business with it care for 
the thing as a distant affair that does not belong to them. They stay in that 
error until this fire comes near them; when it has come, they have no 
remedy to eliminate it unless with their own forces, which then are not 


enough, since it has become very powerful. I wish to omit how the Samnites 
stood by to see the Volsci and the Aequi be conquered by the Roman 
people; and, not to be too prolix, I will make do with the Carthaginians, 
who were of great power and great estimation when the Romans combated 
the Samnites and the Tuscans. For they already held all Africa, they held 
Sardinia and Sicily, and they had dominion in part of Spain. Their power, 
together with the distance between their borders and the Roman people, 
made them never think of assaulting the latter or of succoring the Samnites 
and the Tuscans; instead they acted rather in their favor, as is done with 
things that grow, linking up with them and seeking their friendship. Nor did 
they perceive the error they made before the Romans, having subdued all 
the peoples between them and the Carthaginians, began to combat them 
over the empire of Sicily and of Spain. The same happened with the French 
as with the Carthaginians, and thus with Philip, king of the Macedonians, 18 
and with Antiochus; and while the Roman people was occupied with the 
other, each of them believed that the other would overcome it and there 
would be time to defend itself from it either by peace or by war. So, I 
believe that all those princes who proceeded as did the Romans and were of 
the same virtue as they would have the fortune that the Romans had in this 

[3] The mode taken by the Roman people in entering into the provinces of 
others would have to be shown for this purpose if we had not spoken of it at 
length in our treatise of principalities, 19 for in it this matter is disputed 
thoroughly. I will say only this, lightly, that in new provinces they always 
tried to have some friend who should be a step or a gate to ascend there or 
enter there, or a means to hold it. So they were seen to enter by means of 
the Capuans into Samnium, 20 of the Camertines into Tuscany, 21 of the 
Mamertines into Sicily, 22 of the Saguntines into Spain, 23 of Massinissa into 
Africa, 24 of the Aetolians into Greece, 23 of Eumenes 26 and other princes 
into Asia, and of the Massilians and the Aedui into France. 2 And thus they 
never lacked similar supports to make their enterprises easier, both in 
acquiring provinces and in holding them. Those peoples who observe this 
will see they have less need of fortune than those who are not good 
observers of it. And so that everyone can know better how much more 
virtue could do than their fortune in acquiring that empire, in the following 
chapter we shall discourse about the quality of those peoples they had to 
combat, and how obstinate they were in defending their freedom. 



A - ; 2 -K 

What Peoples the Romans Had to Combat, 
and That They Obstinately Defended Their 


[1] Nothing made it more laborious for the Romans to overcome the 
peoples nearby and parts of the distant provinces than the love that many 
peoples in those times had for freedom; they defended it so obstinately that 
they would never have been subjugated if not by an excessive virtue. For 
what dangers they put themselves in to maintain or recover it and what 
revenges they took against those who had seized it are known through many 
examples. The harms that peoples and cities receive through servitude are 
also known from reading histories. And whereas in these times there is only 
one province that can be said to have free cities in it, 1 in ancient times 
there were very many very free peoples in all provinces. One sees that in 
Italy, in those times of which we speak at present, from the mountains 2 that 
now divide Tuscany from Lombardy to the point of Italy, 3 all were free 
peoples, such as were the Tuscans, the Romans, the Samnites, and many 
other peoples who inhabited the rest of Italy. Nor is it ever reported 4 that 
there was any king there outside of those who reigned in Rome and 
Porsenna, king of Tuscany. 5 How his line was extinguished history does not 
tell. But one sees quite well that in those times, when the Romans took the 
field at Veii, Tuscany was free and enjoyed its freedom so much and hated 
the name of prince so much that when the Veientes, having made a king in 
Veii for their defense, and asked for aid from the Tuscans against the 
Romans, they decided after many consultations not to give aid to the 
Veientes so long as they lived under the king. For they judged it not to be 
good to defend the fatherland of those who had already submitted to 
another. 6 It is an easy thing to know whence arises among peoples this 
affection for the free way of life, for it is seen through experience that cities 
have never expanded either in dominion or in riches if they have not been 
in freedom. And truly it is a marvelous thing to consider how much 


greatness Athens arrived at in the space of a hundred years after it was freed 
from the tyranny of Pisistratus. 7 But above all it is very marvelous to 
consider how much greatness Rome arrived at after it was freed from its 
kings. 8 The reason is easy to understand, for it is not the particular good but 
the common good that makes cities great. And without doubt this common 
good is not observed if not in republics, since all that is for that purpose is 
executed, and although it may turn out to harm this or that private 
individual, those for whom the aforesaid does good are so many that they 
can go ahead with it against the disposition of the few crushed by it. The 
contrary happens when there is a prince, in which case what suits him 
usually offends the city and what suits the city offends him. In this mode, as 
soon as a tyranny arises after a free way of life, the least evil that results for 
those cities is not to go ahead further nor to grow more in power or riches, 
but usually—or rather always—it happens that they go backward. And if 
fate should make emerge there a virtuous tyrant, who by spirit and by virtue 
of arms expands his dominion, the result is of no utility to that republic, but 
is his own. For he cannot honor any of the citizens he tyrannizes over who 
are able and good since he does not wish to have to have suspicion of them. 
He also cannot make the cities he acquires submit or pay tribute to the city 
of which he is tyrant, for making it powerful does not suit him. But it does 
suit him to keep the state disunited and have each town and each province 
acknowledge him. So he alone, and not his fatherland, profits from his 
acquisitions. Whoever wishes to confirm this opinion with infinite other 
reasons should read the treatise Xenophon makes Of Tyranny . 9 It is thus not 
marvelous that the ancient peoples persecuted tyrants with so much hatred 
and loved the free way of life, and that the name of freedom was so much 
esteemed by them. Thus it happened that when Hieronymus, grandson of 
Hiero the Syracusan, was killed in Syracuse and the news of his death came 
to his army, which was not very far from Syracuse, it began first to raise a 
tumult and take up arms against his slayers; but when it heard that freedom 
was being cried out in Syracuse, being attracted by that name, it became 
entirely quiet, put down its anger against the tyrannicides, and took thought 
of how a free way of life could be ordered in that city. 10 It is also not 
marvelous that peoples take extraordinary revenges against those who have 
seized their freedom. There have been very many examples of that, of 
which I intend to refer to one alone that occurred in Corcyra, a city in 
Greece, in the times of the Peloponnesian War. 11 Since that province was 
divided into two parties, of which one followed the Athenians and the other 


the Spartans, it arose from this, in many cities that were divided among 
themselves, that one party took up friendship with Sparta, the other with 
Athens. When it occurred in the said city that the nobles prevailed and took 
freedom away from the people, the popular [party] regained their strength 
by means of the Athenians, laid hands on all the nobility and shut them up 
in a prison capable of holding them all. They drew them out of there eight 
or ten at a turn under pretense of sending them into exile in diverse places 
and had them killed with many examples of cruelty. When those who 
remained became aware of this, they decided to escape this ignominious 
death as much as was possible for them. Having armed themselves with 
whatever they could, they engaged in combat with those who wished to 
enter there and defended the entrance of the prison. So that, at this noise, 
the people made a crowd, uncovered the upper part of that place, and 
suffocated them with the ruins. Many other similarly horrible and notable 
cases also occurred in the said province, so that one sees it to be true that 
freedom that is taken away from you is avenged with greater vehemence 
than that which is wished to be taken away. 

[2] Thinking then whence it can arise that in those ancient times peoples 
were more lovers of freedom than in these, I believe it arises from the same 
cause that makes men less strong now, which I believe is the difference 
between our education and the ancient, founded on the difference between 
our religion and the ancient. For our religion, having shown the truth and 

the true way, 12 makes us esteem less the honor of the world, whereas the 
Gentiles, esteeming it very much and having placed the highest good in it, 
were more ferocious in their actions. This can be inferred from many of 
their institutions, beginning from the magnificence of their sacrifices as 
against the humility of ours, where there is some pomp more delicate than 
magnificent but no ferocious or vigorous action. Neither pomp nor 
magnificence of ceremony was lacking there, but the action of the sacrifice, 
full of blood and ferocity, was added, with a multitude of animals being 
killed there. This sight, being terrible, rendered men similar to itself. 
Besides this, the ancient religion did not beatify men if they were not full of 
worldly glory, as were captains of armies and princes of republics. Our 
religion has glorified humble and contemplative more than active men. It 
has then placed the highest good in humility, abjectness, and contempt of 
things human; the other placed it in greatness of spirit, strength of body, 
and all other things capable of making men very strong. And if our religion 
asks that you have strength in yourself, it wishes you to be capable more of 


suffering than of doing something strong. This mode of life thus seems to 
have rendered the world weak and given it in prey to criminal men, who can 
manage it securely, seeing that the collectivity of men, so as to go to 
paradise, think more of enduring their beatings than of avenging them. And 
although the world appears to be made effeminate and heaven disarmed, it 
arises without doubt more from the cowardice of the men who have 
interpreted our religion according to idleness and not according to virtue. 
For if they considered how it permits us the exaltation and defense of the 
fatherland, they would see that it wishes us to love and honor it and to 
prepare ourselves to be such that we can defend it. These educations and 
false interpretations thus bring it about that not as many republics are seen 
in the world as were seen in antiquity; nor, as a consequence, is as much 
love of freedom seen in peoples as was then. Still, I believe the cause of this 
to be rather that the Roman Empire, with its arms and its greatness, 
eliminated all republics and all civil ways of life. And although that empire 
was dissolved, the cities still have not been able to put themselves back 
together or reorder themselves for civil life except in very few places of that 
empire. However that may be, in every least part of the world the Romans 
found a conspiracy of republics very armed and very obstinate in defense of 
their freedom. This shows that without a rare and extreme virtue the 
Roman people would never have been able to overcome them. 

[3] To give an example of some part of this, I wish the example of the 
Samnites to be enough for me. It seems a wonderful thing—and Titus Livy 
confesses it—that they were so powerful and their arms so sound that they 
could resist the Romans up to the time of the consul Papirius Cursor, son of 
the first Papirius (which was a space of forty-six years), 13 after so many 
defeats, minings of towns, and so many slaughters received in their country, 
especially when that country, where there were so many cities and so many 
men, is now seen to be almost uninhabited. So much order and so much 
force were there then that it was impossible to overcome were it not 
assaulted by a Roman virtue. It is an easy thing to consider whence that 
order arose and whence this disorder proceeds; for it all comes from the 
free way of life then and the servile way of life now. For all towns and 
provinces that live freely in every part (as was said above) 14 make very great 
profits. For larger peoples are seen there, because marriages are freer and 
more desirable to men since each willingly procreates those children he 
believes he can nourish. He does not fear that his patrimony will be taken 
away, and he knows not only that they are born free and not slaves, but that 


they can, through their virtue, become princes. Riches are seen to multiply 
there in larger number, both those that come from agriculture and those 
that come from the arts. For each willingly multiplies that thing and seeks 
to acquire those goods he believes he can enjoy once acquired. From which 
it arises that men in rivalry think of private and public advantages, and both 
the one and the other come to grow marvelously. 

[4] The contrary of all these things occurs in those countries that live 
servilely; and the more they decline from the accustomed good, the harder 
is their servitude. And of all hard servitudes, that is hardest that submits you 
to a republic. First, because it is more lasting and there can be less hope to 
escape from it; second, because the end of the republic is to enervate and to 
weaken all other bodies so as to increase its own body. A prince who makes 
you submit does not do this, if that prince is not some barbarian prince, a 
destroyer of countries and waster of all the civilizations of men, such as are 
the oriental princes. But if he has within himself human and ordinary 
orders, he usually loves his subject cities equally and leaves them all their 
arts and almost all their ancient orders. So if they cannot grow like the free, 
still they are not ruined like the slaves (understanding the servitude into 
which the cities come as serving a foreigner, for I have spoken above of that 
to a citizen of their own). 15 Whoever will thus consider all that was said will 
not marvel at the power the Samnites had when they were free and at the 
weakness into which they came when they were serving [others]. Titus Livy 
vouches 16 for this in several places, especially in the war of Hannibal, in 
which he shows that when the Samnites were crushed by a legion of men 
who were in Nola, they sent spokesmen to Hannibal to beg 17 him to succor 
them. They said in their speech that for a hundred years they had combated 
the Romans with their own soldiers and their own captains, and many times 
had stood up against two consular armies and two consuls, and that then 
they had sunk so low that they could hardly defend themselves against one 
small Roman legion that was in Nola. 18 


«3 ft 

Rome Became a Great City through 
Ruining the Surrounding Cities and Easily 
Admitting Foreigners to Its Honors 

[1] Meanwhile Rome grew from the ruin of Alba.” 1 Those who plan for a 
city to make a great empire should contrive with all industry to make it full 
of inhabitants, for without this abundance of men one will never succeed in 
making a city great. This is done in two modes: by love and by force. By 
love through keeping the ways open and secure for foreigners who plan to 
come to inhabit it so that everyone may inhabit it willingly; by force 
through undoing the neighboring cities and sending their inhabitants to 
inhabit your city. This was observed by Rome so much that in the time of 
the sixth king 2 eighty thousand men able to bear arms inhabited Rome. For 
the Romans wished to act according to the usage of the good cultivator 
who, for a plant to thicken and be able to produce and mature its fruits, cuts 
off the first branches it puts forth, so that they can with time arise there 
greener and more fruitful, since the virtue remains in the stem of the plant. 
The example of Sparta and of Athens demonstrates that this mode taken to 
expand and make an empire was necessary and good. Though they were two 
republics very armed and ordered with very good laws, nonetheless they 
were not led to the greatness of the Roman Empire; and Rome seemed 
more tumultuous and not so well ordered as they. No other cause of this can 
be brought up than that cited before: that through having thickened the 
body of its city by those two ways, Rome could already put in arms two 
hundred eighty thousand 3 men, and Sparta and Athens never passed beyond 
twenty thousand each. This arose not from Rome’s site’s being more benign 
than theirs, but only from its different mode of proceeding. For since 
Lycurgus, founder of the Spartan republic, considered that nothing could 
dissolve his laws more easily than the mixture of new inhabitants, he did 
everything so that foreigners should not have to deal 4 there. Besides not 
admitting them into marriages, into citizenship, and into the other dealings 5 


that make men come together, he ordered that leather money should be 
spent in his republic to take away from everyone the desire to come there, 
to bring merchandise there, or to bring some art there, so the city never 
could thicken with inhabitants. 6 And since all our actions imitate nature, it 
is neither possible nor natural for a thin trunk to support a thick branch. So 
a small republic cannot seize cities or kingdoms that are sounder or thicker 
than it. If, however, it seizes one, what happens is as with a tree that has a 
branch thicker than the stem: it supports it with labor, and every small wind 
breaks it. Thus it was seen to happen to Sparta, which had seized all the 
cities of Greece. No sooner did Thebes rebel than all the other cities 
rebelled, and the trunk alone remained without branches. 7 This could not 
happen to Rome since its stem was so thick it could easily support any 
branch whatever. Thus this mode of proceeding, together with the others 
that will be said below, made Rome great and very powerful. Titus Livy 
demonstrates this in two words when he says, “Meanwhile Rome grew from 
the ruin of Alba.” 8 


Republics Have Taken Three Modes of 


[1] Whoever has observed the ancient histories finds that republics have 
taken three modes of expanding. One has been that which the ancient 
Tuscans observed, being a league of several republics together, in which 
none was before another in either authority or rank; in acquiring other 
cities they made them partners, in a like mode to what the Swiss do in this 
time and what the Achaeans and the Aetolians did in Greece in ancient 
times. Since the Romans made war with the Tuscans very often, I will 
expatiate in giving knowledge of them particularly to show better the 
qualities of this first mode. In Italy, before the Roman Empire, the Tuscans 
were very powerful by sea and by land. 1 Although there is no particular 
history of their affairs, there is, however, some little memory and some sign 
of their greatness. It is known that they sent a colony, which they called 
Adria, on the upper sea, which was so noble that it gave the name to that 
sea the Latins still call Adriatic. It is also understood that their arms were 
obeyed from the Tiber as far as the foot of the mountains 2 that encircle the 
thick part of Italy. Notwithstanding this, two hundred years before the 
Romans grew into much strength, the said Tuscans lost the empire of the 
country called Lombardy today. That province was seized by the Lrench, 
who, moved either by necessity or by the sweetness of the fruit and 
especially of the wine, came into Italy under their duke Bellovesus. Having 
defeated and expelled those living in the province, they set themselves up in 
that place, where they built many cities. Lrom the name they held then, they 
called that province Gaul and held it until they were subdued by the 
Romans. The Tuscans lived thus with that equality and proceeded in 
expanding in that first mode said above. There were twelve cities—among 
which were Chiusi, Veii, Arezzo, Liesole, Volterra, and the like—that 
governed their empire by way of a league. 3 They could not go beyond Italy 
with their acquisitions, and even a great part of [Italy] remained intact for 
the causes that will be said below. Another mode is to get partners but not 


so much that the rank of command, the seat of empire, and the title of the 
enterprises do not remain with you, which mode was observed by the 
Romans. The third mode is to get not partners but direct subjects, as did the 
Spartans and the Athenians. Of these three modes, the last is entirely 
useless, as was seen in the two republics written about above, which were 
not ruined otherwise than by having acquired dominion they could not keep. 
For taking care of governing cities by violence, especially those accustomed 
to living freely, is a difficult and laborious thing. If you are not armed and 
massive with arms, you can neither command nor rule them. To be like that 
it is necessary to get partners who aid you and make your city massive with 
people. Since these two cities did neither the one nor the other, their mode 
of proceeding was useless. Since Rome, which is in the example of the 
second mode, did the one and the other, it therefore rose to such excessive 
power. Since it was alone in living thus, it was also alone in becoming so 
powerful. For it got many partners throughout all Italy who in many things 
lived with it under equal laws, and, on the other side, as was said above, it 
always reserved for itself the seat of empire and the title of command. So 
its partners came to subjugate themselves by their own labors and blood 
without perceiving it. For they began to go out of Italy with their armies, to 
reduce kingdoms to provinces, and to get subjects who did not care about 
being subjects since they were accustomed to living under kings and who 
did not acknowledge a superior other than Rome since they had Roman 
governors and had been conquered by armies with the Roman title. In this 
mode the partners of Rome who were in Italy found themselves in a stroke 
encircled by Roman subjects and crushed by a very big city, such as Rome 
was. And when they perceived the deception under which they had lived, 
they were not in time to remedy it, so much authority had Rome taken with 
its external provinces and so much force had it found within its breast since 
it had its city very big and very armed. Although its partners conspired 
against it to avenge their injuries, in a little time they were losers of the war 
and worsened their condition, since from partners they too became subjects. 
This mode of proceeding, as was said, has been observed by the Romans 
alone; nor can a republic that wishes to expand take another mode, for 
experience has not shown us any more certain or more true. 

[2] The previously cited mode of leagues (which the Tuscans, the Achaeans, 
and the Aetolians lived in, and the Swiss live in today) is the best mode after 
that of the Romans. Since you cannot expand very much with it, two goods 
follow: one, that you do not easily take a war on your back; the other, that 


you easily keep as much as you take. The cause of its inability to expand is 
its being a republic that is disunited and placed in various seats, which 
enables them to consult and decide only with difficulty. It also makes them 
not be desirous of dominating; for since there are many communities to 
participate in dominion, they do not esteem such acquisition as much as 
one republic alone that hopes to enjoy it entirely. Besides this, they govern 
themselves through a council, and they must be slower in every decision 
than those who inhabit within one and the same wall. 4 The like mode of 
proceeding is also seen by experience to have a fixed limit, of which we 
have no example that shows it may be passed. It is to reach twelve or 
fourteen communities and then not to seek to go further. For having arrived 
at a rank that seems to enable them to defend themselves from everyone, 
they do not seek larger dominion, both because necessity does not constrain 
them to have more power and because they do not see any usefulness in 
acquisitions, for the causes said above. For they would have to do one of 
two things: either they go on getting partners, and this multitude would 
make for confusion; or they would have to get subjects, and since they see 
difficulty in this and not much usefulness in holding them, they do not 
esteem it. Therefore, when they have come to such a number that they seem 
to live securely, they turn to two things. One is to receive clients and take 
protectorates, and by these means to obtain money from every part, which 
they can easily distribute among themselves. The other is to serve in the 
military for others and take pay from this and that prince who pays them for 
his campaigns, as the Swiss are seen to do today and as those cited before 
are read to have done. Titus Livy is a witness of this where he says that 
Philip, king of Macedon, came to talk with Titus Quintius Flaminius and 
discussed 5 an accord in the presence of a praetor of the Aetolians. When 
the said praetor came to have words with him, Philip reproved him for 
avarice and faithlessness, saying that the Aetolians were not ashamed to 
serve in the military with one and then still send their men in the service of 
the enemy, so that the insignia of Aetolia were often seen in two opposed 
armies. 6 This mode of proceeding by leagues is known therefore to have 
always been similar and to have had similar effects. The mode of getting 
subjects is also seen to have always been weak and to have made small 
profits; and when they have somehow passed beyond the mode, they have 
soon been ruined. And if the mode of making subjects is useless in armed 
republics, it is very useless in those that are unarmed, as the republics of 
Italy have been in our times. That which the Romans took is known 


therefore to be the true mode, which is so much more wonderful inasmuch 
as before Rome there is no example of it, and after Rome there was no one 
who imitated it. As to leagues, only the Swiss and the League of Swabia are 
found to imitate them. As will be said at the end of this matter, so many 
orders observed by Rome, pertaining to the things inside as well as to those 
outside, are not only not imitated but not held of any account in our present 
times, since some are judged not true, some impossible, some not to the 
purpose and useless. So much so that, since we are in this ignorance, we are 
prey to whoever has wished to overrun this province. And if the imitation of 
the Romans seems difficult, that of the ancient Tuscans should not seem so, 
especially to the present Tuscans. For if they could not, for the causes said, 
make an empire like that of Rome, they could acquire the power in Italy 
that their mode of proceeding conceded them. This was secure for a great 
time, with the highest glory of empire and of arms and special praise for 
customs and religion. This power and glory were first diminished by the 
French, then eliminated by the Romans; and were eliminated so much that 
although two thousand years ago the power of the Tuscans was great, at 
present there is almost no memory of it. This thing has made me think 
whence arises this oblivion of things, which will be discoursed of in the 
following chapter. 


«5 M 

That the Variation of Sects and Languages, 
Together with the Accident of Floods or 
Plague, Eliminates the Memories of Things 

[1] To those philosophers who would have it that the world is eternal, 1 I 
believe that one could reply that if so much antiquity were true it would be 
reasonable that there be memory of more than five thousand years—if it 
were not seen how the memories of times are eliminated by diverse causes, 
of which part come from men, part from heaven. 2 Those that come from 
men are the variations of sects and of languages. For when a new sect—that 
is, a new religion—emerges, its first concern is to extinguish the old to give 
itself reputation; and when it occurs that the orderers of the new sect are of 
a different language, they easily eliminate it. This thing is known from 
considering the modes that the Christian sect took against the Gentile. It 
suppressed all its orders and all its ceremonies and eliminated every 
memory of that ancient theology. It is true that they did not succeed in 
eliminating entirely the knowledge of the things done by its excellent men. 
This arose from having maintained the Latin language, which they were 
forced to do since they had to write this new law with it. For if they had 
been able to write with a new language, considering the other persecutions 
they made, we would not have any record of things past. Whoever reads of 
the modes taken by Saint Gregory 3 and by the other heads of the Christian 
religion will see with how much obstinacy they persecuted all the ancient 
memories, burning the works of the poets and the historians, ruining 
images, and spoiling every other thing that might convey some sign of 
antiquity. So if they had added a new language to this persecution, in a very 
brief time everything would be seen to be forgotten. It is therefore to be 
believed that what the Christian sect wished to do against the Gentile sect, 
the Gentile would have done against that which was prior to it. 4 And 
because these sects vary two or three times in five or in six thousand years, 
the memory of the things done prior to that time is lost; and if, however, 


some sign of them remains, it is considered as something fabulous and is 
not lent faith to—as happened to the history of Diodorus Siculus, which, 
though it renders an account of forty or fifty thousand years, is nonetheless 
reputed, as I believe it to be, a mendacious thing. 

[2] As to the causes that come from heaven, they are those that eliminate 
the human race 5 and reduce the inhabitants of part of the world to a few. 
This comes about either through plague or through famine or through an 
inundation of waters. 6 The most important is the last, both because it is 
more universal and because those who are saved are all mountain men and 
coarse, who, since they do not have knowledge of antiquity, cannot leave it 
to posterity. And if among them someone is saved who has knowledge of it, 
to make a reputation and a name for himself he conceals it and perverts it 
in his mode so that what he has wished to write alone, and nothing else, 
remains for his successors. That these inundations, plagues, and famines 
come about I do not believe is to be doubted, because all the histories are 
full of them, because this effect of the oblivion of things is seen, and 
because it seems reasonable that it should be so. For as in simple bodies, 
when very much superfluous matter has gathered together there, nature 
many times moves by itself and produces a purge that is the health of that 
body, so it happens in this mixed body of the human race 7 that when all 
provinces are filled with inhabitants (so that they can neither live there nor 
go elsewhere since all places are occupied and filled) and human astuteness 
and malignity have gone as far as they can go, the world must of necessity 
be purged by one of the three modes, so that men, through having become 
few and beaten, may live more advantageously and become better. Tuscany 
was then, as was said above, 8 once powerful, full of religion and of virtue, 
and had its customs and ancestral language, all of which were eliminated by 
Roman power. So, as was said, the memory of its name alone remains of it. 


How the Romans Proceeded in Making 


[1] Having discoursed of how the Romans proceeded in expanding, we shall 
now discourse of how they proceeded in making war. In every action of 
theirs it will be seen with how much prudence they deviated from the 
universal mode of others so as to make easy for themselves the way to arrive 
at a supreme greatness. The intention of whoever makes war through choice 
—or, in truth, ambition—is to acquire and maintain the acquisition, and to 
proceed with it so that it enriches and does not impoverish the country and 
his fatherland. It is necessary, then, in acquiring and in maintaining not to 
think of spending but instead to do everything for the utility of his public. 
Whoever wishes to do all these things must take the Roman style and mode. 
This was first to make their wars, as the French say, short and massive; since 
they came into the field with big armies, all the wars they had with the 
Latins, Samnites, and Tuscans were dispatched in a very brief time. And if 
all those that they made from the beginning of Rome up to the siege of the 
Veientes are noted, all will be seen to have been dispatched, some in six, 
some in ten, some in twenty days. 1 For their usage was this: as soon as the 
war was declared, 2 they came outside with their armies opposite the enemy 
and at once did battle. Once it was won, the enemy agreed to conditions so 
that their countryside would not be quite spoiled. The Romans condemned 
them to a loss of land, which land they converted to private advantage or 
consigned to a colony that, placed on their frontiers, came to be a guard of 
the Roman borders useful to the colonists who had those fields and useful to 
the Roman public, who kept that guard without expense. 3 Nor could this 
mode be more secure, stronger, or more useful. For while the enemies were 
not in the field, that guard was enough; and if they came outside massively 
to crush that colony, the Romans also came outside massively and came to a 
battle with them. When the battle was done and won, having imposed 
heavier conditions on them, they returned home. Thus they gradually 4 came 
to acquire reputation over them and force within themselves. 


[2] They continued to take this mode until they changed their mode of 
proceeding in war. This was after the siege of the Veientes, when to be able 
to make war at length they ordered the paying of the soldiers, whom they 
did not pay before since it was not necessary when the wars were brief. 5 
Although the Romans gave that pay and by virtue of this could make their 
wars longer, and although necessity kept them more in the field because they 
made them at a greater distance, nonetheless they never varied from their 
first order of finishing them quickly, according to the place and the time, 
nor did they ever vary from sending colonies. For besides their natural 
usage, the ambition of the consuls kept them in the first order, that of 
making wars brief. Since they had a term of a year to serve, and of that year 
six months were in quarters, they wished to finish the war so as to have a 
triumph. Its usefulness and the great advantage resulting from the sending of 
colonies kept them to it. They varied somewhat about the booty. They were 
not as liberal with it as they had been at first, both because it did not seem 
to them so necessary since the soldiers had a salary and because they 
planned once the booty was larger to fatten the public with it so that they 
would not be constrained to carry on campaigns with taxes from the city. In 
a little time this order made their treasury very rich. These two modes— 
about distributing the booty and about sending colonies—thus made Rome 
get rich from war, whereas the other princes and republics, not being wise, 
impoverished themselves from it. The thing reached the limit when a consul 
did not appear able to have a triumph if with his triumph he did not bring 
very much gold and silver and every other sort of booty into the treasury. 
Thus the Romans, through the limits written above and through finishing 
wars quickly—being able to wear out their enemies at length through 
defeats, through raids, and through accords made to their own advantage— 
became ever richer and more powerful. 


How Much Land the Romans Gave per 


[1] How much land the Romans gave per colonist is, I believe, difficult to 
find the truth about since I believe they gave more or less of it according to 
the places where they sent colonies. It is judged that in every mode and in 
every place the distribution was sparing: first so as to be able to send more 
men, since they were deputed as the guard of that country; then, since they 
lived poorly at home, it was not reasonable that they should wish their men 
to have too much of an abundance outside. And Titus Livy says that when 
Veii was taken they sent a colony there and distributed to each three and 
seven-twelfths jugera (which is in our mode . . . j; 1 for besides the things 
written above, they judged that not very much land but that which was well 
cultivated was enough. 2 It is quite necessary that the whole colony should 
have public fields where each can feed his cattle, and forests from which to 
take firewood to burn, things without which a colony cannot be ordered. 


The Cause Why Peoples Leave Their 
Ancestral Places and Inundate the Country 

of Others 

[1] Since the mode of proceeding in war observed by the Romans is 
reasoned about above, as is how the Tuscans were assaulted by the French, 1 
it does not seem to me alien to the matter to discourse of two kinds of wars 
that are made. One is made through the ambition of princes or of republics 
who seek to propagate empire, such as were the wars Alexander the Great 
made and those the Romans made, and those that one power makes with 
another every day. These wars are dangerous, but they do not entirely expel 
the inhabitants of a province; for the obedience of the peoples alone is 
enough for the victor, and he most often lets them live with their laws, and 
always with their homes and their goods. The other kind of war is when an 
entire people, with all its families, removes from a place, necessitated by 
either famine or war, and goes to seek a new seat and a new province, not to 
command it like those above but to possess it all individually, 2 and expel or 
kill the ancient inhabitants of it. This war is very cruel and very frightful. 
Sallust reasons about these wars at the end of the Jugurthine, when he says 
that once Jugurtha was conquered the motion of the French who came into 
Italy was felt. 3 He says there that the Roman people combated all other 
races solely over who would command, but they combated the French 
always over the salvation of everyone. For it is enough to a prince or a 
republic that assaults a province to eliminate only those who command, but 
these populations must eliminate everyone, since they wish to live on what 
others were living on. The Romans had three of these very dangerous wars. 
The first was when Rome was taken; it was seized by those French who had, 
as was said above, 4 taken Lombardy from the Tuscans and made it their 
seat, for which Titus Livy cites two causes. 5 The first, as was said above, 6 
was that they were attracted by the sweetness of the fruit and the wine of 
Italy, which they lacked in France. The second was that since the French 


kingdom had multiplied in men so much that they could no longer nourish 
themselves there, the princes of those places judged that it was necessary 
for a part of them to go to seek new land. This decision being made, they 
elected Bellovesus and Sigovesus, two kings of the French, as captains of 
those who had to leave; Bellovesus came into Italy and Sigovesus passed into 
Spain. From the coming of Bellovesus arose the seizure of Lombardy, and 
from that the first war the French made on Rome. After this was that which 
they made after the first Carthaginian war, when they killed more than two 
hundred thousand French between Piombino and Pisa. 7 The third was when 
the Germans and Cimbri came into Italy; after conquering several Roman 
armies, they were conquered by Marius. 8 The Romans thus won these three 
very dangerous wars. Nor was less virtue necessary to win them; for it was 
seen that when Roman virtue was lacking and their arms lost their ancient 
valor, that empire was destroyed by similar peoples, such as were the Goths, 
the Vandals, and the like, who seized the whole Western Empire. 

[2] Such peoples go out of their countries, as was said above, expelled by 
necessity; the necessity arises either from famine or from a war and 
oppression inflicted on them in their own countries such that they are 
constrained to seek new lands. When they are a great number, then they 
enter with violence into the countries of others, kill the inhabitants, take 
possession of their goods, make a new kingdom, and change the province’s 
name, as did Moses and the peoples who seized the Roman Empire. For the 
new names that are in Italy and in the other provinces do not arise from 
anything other than having been thus named by the new occupants: as what 
was called Gallia Cisalpina is Lombardy; France was called Gallia 
Transalpina and now is named after the Franks, as the peoples who seized it 
were thus called; Slavonia was called Illyria; Hungary Pannonia; England 
Britannia; and many other provinces that have changed names, which it 
would be tedious to tell of. Moses also called that part of Syria seized by 
him Judea. And since I have said above that sometimes such peoples are 
expelled from their own seat by war, wherefore they are constrained to seek 
new lands, I wish to bring up the example of the Maurusians, a people in 
Syria in antiquity. Since they heard the Hebrew peoples were coming and 
judged that they could not resist them, they thought it was better to save 
themselves and leave their own country than to lose themselves also in 
trying to save it. They removed with their families and went from there into 
Africa, where they placed their seat, expelling the inhabitants they found in 
those places. Thus those who had not been able to defend their own country 


were able to seize that of others. Procopius, who writes of the war that 
Belisarius made with the Vandals, who had seized Africa, reports that he 
read letters written on certain columns in places these Maurusians inhabited 
that said: “We are Maurusians, who fled before the face of Joshua the 
robber son of Nun”; 9 whence appears the cause of their departure from 
Syria. These peoples therefore are very frightful, since they have been 
expelled by an ultimate necessity; and if they do not encounter good arms, 
they will never be contained. 

[3] But when those who are constrained to abandon their fatherland are not 
many, they are not so dangerous as the peoples who were reasoned about, 
for they cannot use so much violence but must seize some place with art, 
and having seized it maintain themselves there by way of friends and 
confederates. Aeneas, Dido, the Massilians, and the like are seen to have 
done so, all of whom were able to maintain themselves through the consent 
of the neighbors where they settled. 

[4] Large peoples come out, and almost all have come out, from the country 
of Scythia, cold and poor places. Because there are very many men there 
and the country is of a quality that cannot nourish them, they are forced to 
come out of there, having many things that expel them and nothing that 
retains them. And if it has not happened for five hundred years that any of 
these peoples has inundated any country, it has arisen from many causes. 
The first is the great evacuation that country made during the decline of the 
empire, when more than thirty peoples came out. The second is that 
Germany and Hungary, from which these peoples also come out, have now 
improved their country so that they can five there comfortably so that they 
are not necessitated to change their place. On the other side, since they are 
very warlike men, they are like a bastion to hold back the Scythians, who 
border them; so they do not presume they can conquer them or pass by 
them. Very great movements of the Tartars often occur, which are 
contained by the Hungarians and by those of Poland, who often glorify 
themselves, saying that if it were not for their arms, Italy and the church 
would have often felt the weight of the Tartar armies. I wish this to be 
enough as to the previously mentioned peoples. 


What Causes Commonly Make Wars Arise 

among Powers 

[1] The cause that made war arise between the Romans and the Samnites, 
who had been in league for a great time, is a common cause that arises 
among all powerful principalities. That cause either comes about by chance 
or is made to arise by whoever desires to start the war. That which arose 
between the Romans and the Samnites was by chance; for the intention of 
the Samnites in starting war against the Sidicini and then against the 
Campanians was not to start it against the Romans. 1 But when the 
Campanians were crushed and had recourse to the Romans—contrary to the 
expectation of the Romans and of the Samnites—since the Campanians 
gave themselves to the Romans, they were forced to defend them as a thing 
of their own and to take on a war that it seemed to them they could not 
escape with honor. For it seemed quite reasonable to the Romans that they 
could not defend the Campanians as friends against their friends the 
Samnites; but it seemed to them quite a shame not to defend them as 
subjects or truly as clients. For they judged that if they did not take on such 
a defense it would shut the way to all those who might plan to come under 
their power. Since Rome had as its end empire and glory and not quiet, it 
could not reject this enterprise. The same cause gave a beginning to the first 
war against the Carthaginians through the defense the Romans undertook of 
the Messinians in Sicily, which was also by chance. 2 But it was not again by 
chance that the second war arose between them. For Hannibal, a 
Carthaginian captain, assaulted the Saguntines, friends of the Romans in 
Spain, not to offend them but to start up the Roman arms and have an 
opportunity to combat them and pass into Italy. 3 This mode of setting off 
new wars has always been customary among the powerful, who have some 
respect both for faith and for each other. For if I wish to make war with a 
prince and solid treaties have been observed between us for a great time, I 
will with more justification and more color assault a friend of his than 
himself. For I know especially that if I assault his friend, either he will 


resent it and I will have my intention of making war with him, or by not 
resenting it he will uncover his weakness or faithlessness in not defending a 
client of his. Both the one and the other of these two things are able to take 
away his reputation and to make my plans easier. From the surrender of the 
Campanians should thus be noted what is said above about starting a war, 
and further what remedy a city has that cannot defend itself by itself and 
wishes to defend itself by every mode from one who assaults it. That is to 
give yourself freely to one who you plan should defend you, as the Capuans 
did to the Romans 4 and the Florentines to King Robert of Naples—who, 
not wishing to defend them as friends, then defended them as subjects 
against the forces of Castruccio of Lucca, who was crushing them. 5 


Money Is Not the Sinew of War, As It Is 
according to the Common Opinion 

[1] Since everyone can begin a war at will but not finish it thus, a prince 
should measure his forces before he undertakes a campaign and govern 
himself according to them. But he should have so much prudence that he 
does not deceive himself about his forces; he will always deceive himself if 
he measures them by money or by the site or by the benevolence of men 
while he lacks his own arms on the other side. For the aforesaid things 
increase your forces well, but do not give them to you well, and by 
themselves are null and do not help anything without faithful arms. For 
without these, very much money is not enough for you, nor does the 
strength of the country help you; the faith and benevolence of men do not 
last, for they cannot be faithful to you if you cannot defend them. Where 
strong defenders are lacking, every mountain, every lake, every inaccessible 
place becomes a plain. Money also not only does not defend you but makes 
you into prey the sooner. Nor can the common opinion be more false that 
says that money is the sinew of war. 1 This sentence was said by Quintus 
Curtius in the war that was between Antipater the Macedonian and the 
Spartan king, where he narrates that the king of Sparta was necessitated by 
want of money to fight and was defeated, and that if he had deferred the 
fight for a few days, the news of the death of Alexander would have arrived 
in Greece, whereby he would have remained victor without combat. 2 But 
since he lacked money and feared that for want of it his army would 
abandon him, he was constrained to try the fortune of battle. So from this 
cause Quintus Curtius affirms that money is the sinew of war. This sentence 
is cited every day and is followed by princes who are not prudent enough. 
For having founded themselves on that, they believe that to defend 
themselves it is enough to have very much treasure and do not think that if 
treasure were enough to conquer, then Darius would have conquered 
Alexander, the Greeks would have conquered the Romans, in our times 
Duke Charles would have conquered the Swiss, and a few days ago the pope 


and the Florentines together would not have had difficulty in conquering 
Francesco Maria, the nephew of Pope Julius II, in the war of Urbino. 3 But 
all those named above were conquered by those who esteem not money but 
good soldiers to be the sinew of war. Among the other things that Croesus, 
king of the Lydians, showed to Solon the Athenian was an innumerable 
treasure; when he asked how his power seemed to him, Solon replied to him 
that he did not judge him more powerful for that, since war is made with 
steel and not with gold, and one who had more steel than he did could come 
and take it away. 4 Aside from this, when a multitude of French passed into 
Greece and then into Asia after the death of Alexander the Great, and the 
French sent spokesmen to the king of Macedon to negotiate a solid accord, 
the king showed them very much gold and silver to show his power and to 
terrify them. Whereupon the French, who already held the peace as if it 
were firm, broke it, so much had desire grown in them to take away that 
gold; and thus was that king despoiled for that thing he had accumulated for 
his defense. 5 When the Venetians a few years ago had their treasury still full 
of treasure, since they could not be defended by that, they lost all their 
state. 6 

[2] I say therefore that not gold, as the common opinion cries out, but good 
soldiers are the sinew of war; for gold is not sufficient to find good soldiers, 
but good soldiers are quite sufficient to find gold. For if the Romans had 
wished to make war more with money than with steel, all the treasure of the 
world would not have been enough, considering the great campaigns that 
they waged and the difficulties they had in them. But since they made their 
wars with steel, they never suffered a dearth of gold, for it was brought to 
them, even to their camps, by those who feared them. And if that Spartan 
king had to try the fortune of battle from dearth of money, what happened 
to him on account of money has happened often from other causes. For it is 
seen that when an army lacks supplies and is necessitated either to die of 
hunger or to fight, it always takes up the policy of fighting, for that is more 
honorable and is where fortune can favor you in some mode. It has also 
happened often that when a captain has seen help coming to the army of his 
enemy, it has suited him to fight with them, and to try the fortune of battle, 
rather than to wait for them to grow more massive and have to combat them 
anyway with a thousand disadvantages for himself. It is also seen that a 
captain necessitated either to flee or to engage in combat (as happened to 
Hasdrubal when he was assaulted in the Marches by Claudius Nero together 
with the other Roman consul) always chooses combat, since although this 


policy is very doubtful, it seems to him that he can win by it, and by the 
other he has to lose anyway. There are thus many necessities that make a 
captain take the policy of fighting outside of his intention, among which can 
sometimes be a dearth of money; but money should not be judged the sinew 
of war because of this any more than the other things that induce men to a 
like necessity. Thus I repeat anew that not gold but good soldiers are the 
sinew of war. 

[3] Money is quite necessary in second place, but it is a necessity that good 
soldiers win it by themselves; for it is as impossible for money to be lacking 
to good soldiers as for money by itself to find good soldiers. Every history 
shows in a thousand places that what we are saying is true, notwithstanding 
that Pericles counseled the Athenians to make war with all the 
Peloponnesus, showing that they could win that war with industry and with 
the force of money. 8 And although the Athenians prospered in that war for a 
while, they ultimately lost it; and the counsel and good soldiers of Sparta 
were worth more than the industry and the money of Athens. But Titus Livy 
is a truer witness than any other for this opinion, where, in discoursing of 
whether Alexander the Great would have conquered the Romans if he had 
come into Italy, he shows that three things are necessary in war: very many 
and good soldiers, prudent captains, and good fortune. Examining there 
whether the Romans or Alexander would have prevailed in those things, he 
then comes to his conclusion without ever mentioning money. 9 The 
Capuans must have measured their power by money and not by soldiers 
when they were asked by the Sidicini to take up arms for them against the 
Samnites; for having taken up the policy of aiding them, they were 
constrained after two defeats to make themselves tributaries of the Romans 
if they wished to save themselves. 10 


11 ft 

It Is Not a Prudent Policy to Make a 
Friendship with a Prince Who Has More 
Reputation Than Force 

[1] Since Titus Livy wished to show the error of the Sidicini in trusting in 
the aid of the Campanians, and the error of the Campanians in believing 
they could defend them, he could not speak in more lively words than when 
he says, “The Campanians brought to the aid of the Sidicini a name rather 
than strength for defense.” 1 It ought to be noted there that leagues that are 
made with princes who do not have either the occasion for aiding you 
because of the distance of their site, or the force to do it because of his 2 
own disorder or some other cause of his own, bring more fame than aid to 
those who trust in them. So it happened in our day to the Florentines, when 
in 1479 the pope and the king of Naples assaulted them, that while being 
friends of the king of France they drew from that friendship 3 “a name rather 
than defense.” 4 So it would happen also to that prince who undertakes some 
enterprise trusting in Emperor Maximilian, 5 for this is one of those 
friendships that brings to him who makes it “a name rather than defense,” as 
is said in this text that of the Capuans brought to the Sidicini. 

[2] The Capuans thus erred in this part, because they seemed to themselves 
to have more forces than they had. And thus sometimes the little prudence 
of men, who neither know how nor are able to defend themselves, makes 
them wish to undertake the enterprise of defending others. So also did the 
Tarentines, who, when the Roman armies went against the Samnite army, 
sent ambassadors to the Roman consul to make him understand that they 
wished for peace between these two peoples, and that they would make war 
against whichever departed from peace. So the consul, laughing at this 
proposal, had the call to battle sounded in the presence of said ambassadors 
and commanded his army to go to meet 6 the enemy, showing the Tarentines 
with work and not with words what reply they were worthy of. 7 Having 


reasoned in the present chapter of the policies to the contrary that princes 
take up for the defense of others, I wish in the following to speak of those 
that they take up for their own defense. 


*$12 ft 

Whether, When Fearing to Be Assaulted, It 
Is Better to Bring On or Await War 

[1] I have heard it sometimes disputed by men very practiced in things of 
war: if there are two princes of almost equal forces and the mightier has 
declared war against the other, which is the better policy for the other—to 
await the enemy inside his own borders or to go to meet him at home and 
assault him; and I have heard reasons brought up on each side. He who 
defends going to assault others cites for this the counsel that Croesus gave to 
Cyrus when the latter arrived at the borders of the Massageti to make war 
against them, and their queen Tamyris sent to say that he should choose 
which of the two policies he wanted: either to enter into her kingdom 
where she awaited him or to let her come to meet him. When the thing 
came under debate, Croesus, contrary to the opinion of the others, said he 
should go to meet her. He cited [the consideration] that if he should 
conquer her at a distance from her kingdom he would not take away the 
kingdom, since she would have time to recover; but if he should conquer 
her inside her borders, he could follow her in her flight, not giving her space 
to recover, and take away her state. 1 He also cites for this the counsel that 
Hannibal gave to Antiochus, when that king planned to make war against 
the Romans. There he shows that the Romans could not be conquered 
except in Italy, for there others could avail themselves of their arms, riches, 
and friends; but whoever combated them outside Italy, and left Italy free for 
them, left them a source that never lacks life to supply forces where needed; 
and he concludes that Rome could be taken away from the Romans sooner 
than the empire, and Italy sooner than the other provinces. 2 He also cites 
Agathocles, who, though unable to sustain the war at home, assaulted the 
Carthaginians who were waging it against him and reduced them to asking 
for peace. 3 He cites Scipio, who assaulted Africa to remove the war from 
Italy. 4 

[2] He who speaks to the contrary says that whoever wishes to make evil 
befall an enemy gets him at a distance from home. He cites for this the 


Athenians, who remained superior while they made war advantageously in 
their home and lost their freedom when they got at a distance and went with 
their armies into Sicily. 5 He cites the poetic fables that show that Antaeus, 
king of Libya, when assaulted by Hercules the Egyptian, was unconquerable 
while he awaited him inside the borders of his kingdom, but when he got at 
a distance from it through the astuteness of Hercules, he lost his state and 
his life. This gave rise to the fable that Antaeus, being on the earth, got back 
his strength from his mother who was the Earth and that Hercules, 
perceiving this, raised him high and got him at a distance from the earth. 6 
He also cites modern judgments for this. Everyone knows that Ferdinand, 
king of Naples, was held in his times to be a very wise prince; when the 
rumor came (two years before his death) that the king of France, Charles 
VIII, wished to come to assault him, having made very many preparations, 
he fell sick and, approaching death, left among other notes to Alfonso his 
son one that he should await his enemy inside his kingdom, and not for 
anything in the world draw his forces outside his state, but await him inside 
his borders entirely intact. 7 This was not observed by the latter; but he sent 
an army into the Romagna and without combat lost it and his state. 

[3] Besides the things said, the reasons that are brought up by each side are: 
that he who assaults comes with greater spirit than he who awaits, which 
makes his army more confident; besides this, he takes away from the enemy 
the many advantages of being able to avail himself of his things, since he 
cannot avail himself of those subjects who are plundered. And through 
having the enemy at home, the lord is constrained to have more hesitation 
in drawing money from them and belaboring them, so that he comes to dry 
up that source, as Hannibal said, that makes him able to sustain the war. 
Besides this, because they find themselves in another’s country, his soldiers 
are more necessitated to engage in combat, and this necessity produces 
virtue, as we have often said. On the other side it is said that to await the 
enemy is to await with great advantage, for without any trouble you can 
give him many troubles with supplies and with any other thing an army has 
need of. You can better impede his plans because you have more knowledge 
of the country than he. You can encounter him with more forces because 
you can unite them easily but you cannot get them all at a distance from 
home. Being defeated, you can easily recover, both because much of your 
army will be saved through having refuges nearby and because the 
reinforcement does not have to come from a distance. So you come to risk 
all your forces and not all your fortune; getting at a distance, you risk all 


your fortune and not all your forces. There have been some who, better to 
weaken his 8 enemy, let him enter several days into their country and take 
many towns, so that by leaving garrisons in all he weakens his army, and 
they can then combat him more easily. 

[4] But for me to say now what I understand 9 of it, I believe that this 
distinction has to be made either I have my country armed, as the Romans 
had or as the Swiss have, or I have it unarmed, as the Carthaginians had or 
as the king of France and the Italians have. In the latter case the enemy 
ought to be held at a distance from home; for, since your virtue is in money 
and not in men, whenever your way of getting it is impeded you are done 
for; 10 nor does anything impede it for you as much as a war at home. 
Examples of this are the Carthaginians, who could make war with the 
Romans with their revenues when they had their home free, yet could not 
resist Agathocles when they had it assaulted. The Florentines did not have 
any remedy against Castruccio, lord of Lucca, for he made war with them 
at home, so that they had to give themselves to King Robert of Naples to be 
defended. 11 But when Castruccio was dead, these same Florentines had the 
spirit to assault the duke of Milan at home and to work 12 to take away his 
kingdom; 13 so much virtue did they show in faraway wars and so much 
cowardice in those nearby. But when kingdoms are armed, as Rome was 
armed and as the Swiss are, they are more difficult to conquer the more you 
draw near them, for these bodies can unite more force to resist a thrust than 
they can to assault another. Nor does the authority of Hannibal move me in 
this case, for passion and his utility made him speak thus to Antiochus. For 
if the Romans had had those three defeats in France in such a space of time 
that they had in Italy from Hannibal, 14 without doubt they would have been 
done for. For they would not have availed themselves of the remnants of 
their armies as they availed themselves in Italy; they would not have had the 
occasions to recover, nor would they have been able to resist the enemy 
with those forces they were able to. They are never found to have sent 
armies outside surpassing fifty thousand persons to assault a province, but to 
defend their home they put in arms eighteen hundred thousand against the 
French after the First Punic War. 15 Nor would they have been able to defeat 
the latter in Lombardy as they defeated them in Tuscany; for against such a 
number of enemies they would not have been able to lead such forces to 
such a distance or to have combated them with such advantage. The Cimbri 
defeated a Roman army in Germany, and the Romans had no remedy there. 


But when they arrived in Italy, and they were able to put all their forces 
together, they did them in. 16 It is easy to conquer the Swiss outside their 
home, where they cannot send more than thirty or forty thousand men, but 
to conquer them at home, where they can gather a hundred thousand, is 
very difficult. I thus conclude anew that a prince who has his people armed 
and ordered for war should always await a powerful and dangerous war at 
home, and not go to encounter it. But he who has his subjects unarmed and 
his country unaccustomed to war should always get as much at a distance 
from home as he can. And so both the one and the other, each in his rank, 
will defend himself best. 


« 13 ?* 

That One Comes from Base to Great 
Fortune More through Fraud Than 

through Force 

[1] I esteem it to be a very true thing that it rarely or never happens that 
men of small fortune come to great ranks without force and without fraud, 
although the rank that another has attained may be given or left by 
inheritance to them. Nor do I believe that force alone is ever found to be 
enough, but fraud alone will be found to be quite enough; as he will clearly 
see who will read the life of Philip of Macedon, 1 that of Agathocles the 
Sicilian, 2 and those of many others like them who from obscure or base 
fortune attained a kingdom or very great empires. Xenophon in his life of 
Cyrus shows this necessity to deceive, considering that the first expedition 
that he has Cyrus make against the king of Armenia is full of fraud, and that 
he makes him seize his kingdom through deception and not through force. 
And he does not conclude otherwise from this action than that it is 
necessary for a prince who wishes to do great things to learn to deceive. 
Besides this, he makes him deceive Cyaxares, king of the Medes, his 
maternal uncle, in several modes; without which fraud he shows that Cyrus 
could not have attained that greatness he came to. 3 Nor do I believe that 
anyone placed in base fortune is ever found to attain great empire through 
open force alone and ingenuously, but it is done quite well through fraud 
alone, as Giovan Galeazzo did in taking away the state and empire of 
Lombardy from his uncle, Messer Bernabo. 4 

[2] What princes are necessitated to do at the beginnings of their increase, 
republics also are necessitated to do until they have become powerful and 
force alone is enough. And since by fate or by choice Rome on every side 
held to all the modes necessary to come to greatness, it did not fail in this 
either. Nor could it use a greater deception in the beginning than taking the 
mode (discoursed of by us above) 5 of making partners, for under this name 
it made them servile, as were the Latins and other peoples round about. For 


first it availed itself of their arms in subduing the neighboring peoples and 
taking the reputation of the state; then, having subdued them, it achieved so 
much increase that it could beat everyone. The Latins never perceived that 
they were altogether servile until they saw the Samnites given two defeats 
and constrained to an accord. As this victory greatly increased the 
reputation of the Romans with far-off princes who by means of it heard 6 
the Roman name and not their arms, it thus generated envy and suspicion in 
those who saw and heard their arms, among whom were the Latins. 7 This 
envy and this fear were able to do so much that not the Latins alone but the 
colonies they had in Latium, together with the Campanians, who had been 
defended a little before, conspired against the Roman name. The Latins 
started this war in the mode in which it is said above the greater part of 
wars are started, 8 not by assaulting the Romans but by defending the 
Sidicini against the Samnites, who were making war on them with license 
from the Romans. That it is true that the Latins started it because they 
recognized this deception Titus Livy demonstrates in the mouth of Annius 
Setinus the Latin praetor, who in their council said these words: “For if 
even now under the shadow of an equal league we can endure servitude, 
etc.” 9 The Romans therefore are seen in their first increases not to be 
lacking even in fraud, which it is always necessary for those who wish to 
climb from small beginnings to sublime ranks to use and which is less 
worthy of reproach the more it is covert, as was that of the Romans. 



« 14 ?* 

Often Men Deceive Themselves Believing 
That through Humility They Will Conquer 


[1] It is often seen how humility not only does not help but hurts, especially 
used with insolent men who, either by envy or by another cause, have 
conceived hatred for you. Our historian vouches 1 for this in this cause of 
war between the Romans and the Latins. For when the Samnites 
complained to the Romans that the Latins had assaulted them, the Romans 
did not wish to forbid such a war to the Latins, desiring not to anger them. 
This not only did not anger them, but made them become more spirited 
against them and uncover themselves as enemies sooner. 2 The words used 
by the aforementioned Annius the Latin praetor in the same council vouch 
for this, where he says, “You have tried their patience by denying them 
soldiers; who doubts that they were enraged? Yet they endured this pain. 
They heard that we are preparing an army against the Samnites, their 
confederates, and they have not moved from the city. Whence this so great 
restraint of theirs, if not from consciousness of our strength and theirs?” 3 
How much the patience of the Romans increased the arrogance of the 
Latins is therefore very clearly known from this text. And yet a prince 
should never wish to fall short of his rank and should never let anything go 
by accord, wishing to let it go honorably, except when he can—and it is 
believed that he can—hold onto it. For when the thing is brought to such a 
point that you cannot let it go in the said mode, it is almost always better to 
let it be taken away through force than through fear of force. For if you let 
it go through fear, you do it to avoid war, and most often you do not avoid 
it. For he to whom you will have conceded this and uncovered your 
cowardice will not stand still but will wish to take other things away from 
you and will get more inflamed against you since he esteems you less. In the 
other party you will find colder defenders in your favor, since it seems to 
them that you are weak or cowardly. But if, when the wish of the adversary 


is uncovered, you prepare forces at once, although they may be inferior to 
his, he will begin to esteem you, and since the other princes round about 
will esteem you more, the wish to aid you when you are under arms will 
come to him who would never aid you when you abandon yourself. This is 
understood when you have one enemy, but when you have more of them, to 
give some of the things you possess to one of them to win him over, 
although war may be already declared, 4 and to detach him from your other 
confederated enemies is always a prudent policy. 



Weak States Will Always Be Ambiguous in 
Their Resolutions; and Slow Decisions Are 

Always Hurtful 

[1] In this same matter, and in these same beginnings of war between the 
Latins and the Romans, it can be noted how in every consultation it is good 
to get to the particular 1 of what has to be decided, and not to stay always in 
ambiguity or uncertainty about the thing. This is seen manifestly in the 
consultation the Latins held when they were thinking of alienating 
themselves from the Romans. Since the Romans had foreseen this bad 
humor that had entered into the Latin peoples, so as to make certain of the 
affair and see if they could win those peoples over without putting their 
hands to arms, they gave them to understand that they should send eight 
citizens to Rome, for they had to consult with them. 2 Having understood 
this, and being conscious 3 of having done many things against the wish of 
the Romans, the Latins held a council to order who should go to Rome and 
to give them a commission as to what they had to say. And while Annius, 
their praetor, was in the council during this dispute, he said these words: “I 
judge it to belong to the highest of our affairs for you to consider more what 
we ought to do than what is to be said. Once the counsels are made clear, it 
will be easy to accommodate words to things.” 4 Without doubt these words 
are very true and should be relished by every prince and by every republic. 
For when they are in ambiguity and uncertainty as to what they wish to do, 
they do not know how to accommodate their words; but once their spirit is 
firm and what is to be executed is decided, it is an easy thing to find the 
words. I have noted this part the more willingly inasmuch as I have often 
known such ambiguity to have hurt public actions, with harm and with 
shame for our republic. It will be verified that among doubtful policies, 
where spirit is needed to decide them, this ambiguity will always be there 
when weak men have to give counsel about and decide them. Slow and 
tardy decisions are not less hurtful than ambiguous ones, especially those 


that have to be decided in favor of some friend; for with their slowness one 
aids no one and hurts oneself. Decisions made thus proceed either from 
weakness of spirit and of force or from the malignity of those who have to 
decide, who, moved by their own passion to wish to ruin the state or to 
fulfill some other desire of theirs, do not let the decision be carried out but 
impede it and cross it. For even when they see popular fervor taking a 
pernicious part, the good citizens never impede the decision, especially in 
things that cannot wait on time. 

[2] When Hieronymus, tyrant of Syracuse, was dead, and there was a great 
war between the Carthaginians and the Romans, the Syracusans came to 
dispute whether they should follow the Roman friendship or the 
Carthaginian. 5 The ardor of the parties was such that the thing remained 
ambiguous, nor was any policy taken up until Apollonides, one of the first 
men in Syracuse, showed with an oration full of prudence that whoever held 
the opinion that they should adhere to the Romans was not to be blamed, 
nor were those who wished to follow the Carthaginian party, but it was good 
to detest ambiguity and tardiness in taking up a policy. For he saw the ruin 
of the republic altogether in such ambiguity, but once the policy was taken 
up, whatever it might be, some good could be hoped for. Nor could Titus 
Livy show the harm drawn from remaining in suspense more than he does 
in this regard. He demonstrates it in the case of the Latins also: when the 
Lavinians were asked by them for aid against the Romans, they deferred 
deciding it so much that when they had gotten right outside the gate with 
their troops to give them help, the news came that the Latins were defeated. 
Milonius their praetor said of this: “This little way will cost us very much 
with the Roman people.” 6 For had they decided at first either to aid or not 
to aid the Latins, either by not aiding them they would not have angered the 
Romans or by aiding them the aid would have been in time and they could 
have made them win with the addition of their forces. But by deferring they 
came to lose in any case, as happened to them. If the Florentines had noted 
this text, they would not have had so much harm or so much trouble from 
the French as they had from the coming into Italy of King Louis XII of 
France against Ludovico, duke of Milan. 7 For when the king was 
negotiating his coming and sought an accord with the Florentines, the 
spokesmen who were with the king came to an accord with him that they 
would stay neutral, and that when the king came into Italy he would have to 
maintain them in their state and receive them under his protection, and he 
gave a month’s time to the city to ratify this. Whoever with little prudence 


favored the affairs of Ludovico deferred such ratification until the king was 
already near victory and the Florentines wished to ratify it, when the 
ratification was not accepted. For he knew that the Florentines had come 
forcibly and not willingly into his friendship. This cost the city of Florence 
very much money, and it was about to lose its state, as happened to it later 
for a similar cause. This policy was so much the more to be condemned 8 
since it did not serve even Duke Ludovico, who would have shown many 
more signs of enmity to the Florentines if he had won than did the king. 
Although the evil that arises for republics from this weakness has been 
discoursed of above in another chapter, 9 nonetheless, having opportunity for 
it anew through a new accident, I wished to repeat it, since it seems to me a 
matter that should be especially noted by republics like ours. 


How Much the Soldiers of Our Times Do 
Not Conform to the Ancient Orders 

[1] The most important battle ever waged by the Roman people in any war 
with any nation was that which it waged with the Latin peoples in the 
consulate of Torquatus and Decius. 1 For every reason agrees 2 that as the 
Latins became servile through having lost it, so the Romans would have 
become servile if they had not won it. Titus Livy is of this opinion, for he 
makes the armies alike in every aspect, in order, virtue, obstinacy, and 
number; the only difference he makes is that the heads of the Roman army 
were more virtuous than those of the Latin army. One also sees how two 
accidents arose in the managing of this battle that had not arisen before and 
of which there have been rare examples since: to keep the spirits of the 
soldiers firm, obedient to their commands, and decided on combat, one of 
the two consuls killed himself and the other his son. The likeness that Titus 
Livy says there was between these armies was that from having served in the 
military together a long time they were alike in language, order, and arms. 
For they kept to the same mode in ordering the battle, and the ranks and 
heads of ranks had the same names. It was necessary, then, since they were 
of like forces and like virtue, that something extraordinary should arise that 
would make the spirits of the one firm and more obstinate than the other; 
victory, as was said at other points, 3 consists in such obstinacy, for while it 
endures in the breasts of those who engage in combat, armies never turn 
back. For it to endure more in the breasts of the Romans than in those of 
the Latins, partly fate and partly the virtue of the consuls made it arise that 
Torquatus had to kill his son 4 and Decius [had to kill] himself? In showing 
this likeness of forces, Titus Livy shows the whole order that the Romans 
kept in armies and in fighting. Since he explains it extensively, I will not 
repeat it otherwise, but will discourse only of that in it that I judge notable 
and the neglect of which by all the captains of these times has produced 
many disorders in armies and in fights. I say thus that from the text of Livy 
one gathers that the Roman army had three principal divisions, which in 


Tuscan they would call three schiere : 6 they called the first astati, the second 
principi? the third triari; and each of these had its own [troop of] horse. In 
ordering a battle, they put the astati in front, in the second place right in 
back of them they put the principi , and third yet in the same file they placed 
the triari. They put the horse of all these ranks on the right and on the left of 
these three battalions. The lines of the horse were called alae from their 
form and place, for they appeared like two wings of the body. They ordered 
the first line, that of the astati, which was in the front, to be locked together 
in such a mode that it could contain and stand up against the enemy. Since 
the second line, that of the principi, was not the first in combat but was well 
suited to relieve the first when beaten or pushed back, they did not make it 
tight but kept its ranks sparse and of such a quality that without disordering 
itself it could receive the first into itself whenever shoved back by the enemy 
and necessitated to withdraw. The third line, that of the triari, had its ranks 
still more sparse than the second to be able when needed to receive into 
itself the first two lines, those of the principi and the astati. These lines 
placed thus in this form joined the fight. If the astati were forced back or 
defeated, they withdrew into the spaces between the ranks of the principi, 
and all united together made one body from two lines and rejoined the fight. 
If these were also repelled and forced back, they all withdrew into the 
spaces between the ranks of the triari, and all three lines became one body 
and renewed the fight. If they were overcome then, since they were no 
longer able to recover, they lost the fight. Since the army was in danger 
whenever this last line of the triari was put to work, the proverb arose, “The 
affair has been brought back to the triari ,” 8 which in the Tuscan usage 
means, “We have played our last stake.” 

[2] As the captains of our times have abandoned all the other orders and do 
not observe any part of ancient discipline, so they have abandoned this part, 
which is of no little importance. For whoever orders himself so that he can 
recover three times in battles has to have fortune his enemy three times to 
be able to lose, and has to have against him a virtue capable of conquering 
him three times. But whoever does not stand except against the first push, as 
do all the Christian armies today, can lose easily, for any disorder, any 
middling virtue, can take victory away from them. What makes our armies 
lack the ability to recover three times is having lost the mode of receiving 
one line into another. This arises because at present battles are ordered with 
one of these two disorders: either they put their lines shoulder to shoulder 
and make their battle array extensive across and thin in depth, which makes 


it weaker because it has little between front and rear; or when instead, to 
make it stronger, they shorten the lines in the Roman style. If the first front 
is defeated, since there is no order by which it can be received by the 
second, they get all tangled together and break themselves. For if the one in 
front is shoved back, it pushes the second; if the second wishes to go in 
front, it is impeded by the first; with the first pushing the second, and the 
second the third, so much confusion arises that often the least accident ruins 
an army. The Spanish and French armies in the fighting at Ravenna (where 
Monsieur de Foix, captain of the troops of France, died), which was a 
battle of very well done combat for our times, were ordered by one of the 
modes written above: that is, both the one and the other army came with 
their troops ordered shoulder to shoulder, in such a mode that neither the 
one nor the other had more than one front, and they were much wider 
across than deep. This always happens to them where they have a great field, 
as they had at Ravenna. For, knowing the disorder that they produce in 
withdrawing, they avoid it when they can by putting themselves in one file, 
making the front extensive as was said; but when the country constrains 
them, they stay in the disorder written of above without thinking of the 
remedy. In this same disorder they ride through enemy country, either if 
they prey upon it or if they manage another affair of war. In Santo Regolo, 
in the territory of Pisa, and elsewhere—where the Florentines were 
defeated by the Pisans in the time of the war between the Florentines and 
that city because of its rebellion after the coming into Italy of Charles, king 
of France—ruin did not arise from anywhere else than from the friendly 
cavalry. Being in front and beaten back by the enemy, it crashed into and 
broke the Florentine infantry, wherefore all the remainder of the troops 
turned back. Messer Ciriaco del Borgo, former head of the Florentine 
infantry, has often affirmed in my presence never to have been defeated 
except by the cavalry of friends. When they serve in the military with the 
French, the Swiss, who are the masters of modern wars, take care above all 
things to put themselves on the side so that if the friendly cavalry is beaten 
back it will not push into them. Although these things appear easy to 
understand, and very easy to do, nonetheless not even one of our 
contemporary captains is found who imitates the ancient orders and 
corrects the modern. And although they may still have their army tripartite, 
calling one part the vanguard, another the battalion, and another the 
rearguard, they do not make it serve other than to command them in their 
quarters. But in putting them to work it is rare, as is said above, that they do 
not make all these bodies incur one and the same fortune. 


[3] Because to excuse their ignorance many cite the violence of artillery, 
which does not suffer many orders of the ancients to be used in these times, 
I wish to dispute this matter in the following chapter, and I wish to examine 
if artillery is such an impediment that one cannot use ancient virtue. 


17 ft 

How Much Artillery Should Be Esteemed 
by Armies in the Present Times; and 
Whether the Opinion Universally Held of It 

Is True 

[1] When I was considering, besides the things written above, how many 
fights I in the field (in our times called with a French word “days,” 1 and by 
the Italians “feats of arms”) were waged by the Romans in different times, 
there came into my consideration the universal opinion of many who would 
have it that if there had been artillery in those times, the Romans would not 
have been permitted—or not so easily—to take provinces and make peoples 
pay tribute to them, as they did, nor would they in any mode have made 
such mighty acquisitions. They also say that by means of these firearms men 
cannot use or show their virtue as they could in antiquity. They add a third 
thing: that one comes to battle with more difficulty than one came to it 
then, and that one cannot keep there to the orders of those times, so that 
war will in time be reduced to artillery. Judging it not to be outside the 
purpose to dispute whether these opinions are true, how much artillery has 
increased or diminished the force of armies, and whether it takes away or 
gives opportunities to good captains to work virtuously, I shall begin to 
speak to their first opinion: that the ancient Roman armies would not have 
made the acquisitions they made if there had been artillery. Responding to 
that, I say that war is made either to defend oneself or to take the offensive; 
hence, first to be examined is to which of these two modes of war it is more 
useful or more harmful. Although there may be something to say on each 
side, nonetheless I believe that without comparison it does more harm to 
whoever defends himself than to whoever takes the offensive. The reason I 
say this is that whoever defends himself either is inside a town or is in camp 
inside a stockade. If he is inside a town, either this town is small, as are the 
larger part of fortresses, or it is great. In the first case, he who defends 
himself is altogether lost, for the thrust of the artillery is such that no wall is 


found, however thick, that it does not knock down in a few days. And if he 
who is inside does not have good spaces to withdraw into, with trenches and 
embankments, 2 he is lost. Nor can he stand up against the thrust of the 
enemy who then tries to enter through the breach in the wall; nor does the 
artillery he may have help him in this, for it is a maxim that where men can 
go en masse and with a thrust, artillery cannot stand up against them. 
Therefore in the defense of towns the ultramontane furies are not stood up 
to; Italian assaults are stood up to well since they are led into battles (which 
they call by the very appropriate name of skirmishes), not en masse but in 
small groups. Those who go with such disorder and coldness against a 
breach in a wall where there is artillery go to a manifest death and artillery 
avails against them. But when those who are compacted en masse, with one 
shoving the other, go against a breach, if they are not sustained from 
trenches or embankments, they enter in every place and artillery does not 
hold them; and if some of them die, they cannot be so many that they 
impede victory. This is known to be true from many stormings performed 
by the ultramontanes in Italy, especially that of Brescia. For when that town 
rebelled from the French and the fortress was still held for the king of 
France, the Venetians, so as to sustain the thrust that could come from it 
against the town, provided the whole street that descended from the fortress 
to the city with artillery, putting it in front and on the flanks and in every 
other appropriate place. Monsieur de Foix took no account of this. Instead, 
with his squadron dismounted on foot, he passed through the middle of it 
and seized the city; nor is it heard that he received any memorable harm 
from it. So whoever defends himself in a small town, as was said, and finds 
the walls on the ground, and does not have space for embankments and 
trenches to withdraw to, and has to trust in artillery, is lost at once. 

[2] If you defend a great town, and you have the advantage of being able to 
withdraw, artillery is nonetheless beyond comparison more useful to 
whoever is outside than to whoever is inside. First, because for artillery to 
hurt those who are outside you are compelled of necessity to raise it above 
the level of the town; for if you stay on that level, any little barricade and 
embankment the enemy makes remains secure and you cannot hurt them. 
So since you have to lift or pull yourself onto the walkway of the walls, or in 
whatever mode raise yourself above the ground, you draw onto yourself two 
difficulties. First is that you cannot bring there artillery of the massiveness 
and power that anyone can bring from outside, since you are not able to 
manage great things in small spaces. The other is that if you can actually 


bring it there, you cannot make the faithful and secure embankments for 
saving said artillery that those outside can make, as they are on the terrain 
and have the advantage and the space that they themselves wish, so much 
that it is impossible for whoever defends a town to keep artillery in high 
places when those who are outside have very much and powerful artillery. 
And if they have to come into low places with it, it becomes in good part 
useless, as was said. So the defense of the city has to be reduced to 
defending it with one’s arms, 3 as was done in antiquity, and with light 
artillery. If a little utility is obtained with respect to light artillery, a 
disadvantage is obtained from it that counterbalances the advantage of 
artillery. For thanks 4 to it the walls of towns are kept low and almost buried 
underground in the trenches, so that when it comes to a hand-to-hand 
battle, either because the walls are beaten down or because the trenches are 
filled up, he who is inside has more disadvantages than he had before. And 
so, as was said above, these instruments help him who besieges towns much 
more than him who is besieged. 

[3] As to the third thing—being reduced to a camp inside a stockade so as 
not to do battle if it is not to your convenience or advantage—I say that in 
this situation you ordinarily do not have any remedy with which to defend 
yourself from combat other than what the ancients had; and sometimes, on 
account of artillery, you are at a greater disadvantage. For if the enemy 
comes upon you and has a little advantage from the country, as can easily 
happen, and finds himself higher than you, or if on his arrival you have not 
yet made your barricades and covered yourself well with them, he dislodges 
you at once and without your having any remedy, and you are forced to go 
out from your fortresses and come to fight. This happened to the Spanish in 
the Battle of Ravenna, where they had dug in between the Ronco River and 
a barricade. Because they had not raised it up high enough and the French 
had a little advantage in the terrain, they were constrained by the artillery to 
go out from their fortresses and come to fight. But given that the place you 
have taken for a camp is, as it often must be, more eminent than the others 
opposite it, and that the barricades are good and secure, so that by means of 
the site and your other preparations the enemy does not dare to assault you, 
in this case one will come to those modes that one came to in antiquity 
when one individual was with his army in a spot that could not be attacked. 
These are to overrun the country, to take or besiege towns friendly to you, or 
to impede your supplies—so much so that you will be forced by some 
necessity to dislodge and come to battle, where artillery, as will be said 


below, does not work much. Whoever considers thus what types of wars the 
Romans made, and sees how they made almost all their wars taking the 
offensive against others and not defending against them, will see, if the 
things said above are true, that they would have had more advantage, and 
would have made their acquisitions more quickly, if there had been 
[artillery] in those times. 

[4] As to the second thing—that by means of artillery men cannot show 
their virtue as they could in antiquity—I say it is true that men incur more 
dangers than back then when they have to show themselves in small groups, 
when they have to scale a town or make similar assaults, when they are not 
confined together but have to appear by themselves one by one. It is also 
true that captains and heads of armies are subjected more to the danger of 
death than back then, since they can be reached with artillery in every place; 
nor does it help them to be in the last squadrons and be provided with very 
strong men. Nonetheless, both the one and the other of these two dangers 
rarely inflict extraordinary harm since well-protected towns are not scaled 
or assaulted with weak assaults, but when one wishes to capture them the 
affair is reduced to a siege, as was done in antiquity. And even in those that 
are captured by assaults, the dangers are not much greater than they were 
back then. For whoever defended towns in that time also did not lack things 
to shoot with, which, if they were not so furious, had a similar effect as to 
killing men. As to the deaths of captains and condottieri, there are fewer 
examples of them in the twenty-four years 5 that the wars have lasted in 
recent times in Italy than there were in ten years in the time of the ancients. 
For outside of Count Lodovico della Mirandola, who died at Ferrara when 
the Venetians assaulted that state a few years ago, 6 and the duke of 
Nemours, who died at Cirignuola, 7 it has not occurred that any of them 
have died from artillery—for Monsieur de Foix died at Ravenna from steel, 
not from fire. 8 So if men do not particularly demonstrate their virtue, it 
arises not from artillery but from the bad orders and the weakness of 
armies, for lacking virtue in the whole, they cannot show it in the part. 

[5] As to the third thing they say—that one cannot get hand to hand and 
that war will be conducted altogether by artillery—I say this opinion is 
altogether false, and thus it will always be held by those who will try to put 
their armies to work according to ancient virtue. For it suits whoever 
wishes to make a good army to accustom his men with exercises either 
feigned or true to get close to the enemy, to come at him wielding the 
sword, and to stand chest to chest with him. And one ought to found oneself 


more on infantry than on horse for the reasons that will be said below. If 
one founds oneself on infantrymen and on the modes said before, artillery 
becomes altogether useless. For in getting close to the enemy, infantry can 
flee the blows of artillery with more ease than in antiquity they could flee 
the thrust of the elephants, the scythed chariots, and the other 
unaccustomed opponents the Roman infantry opposed, against which they 
always found the remedy. So much more easily would they have found it 
against artillery inasmuch as the time during which it can hurt you is briefer 
than was that during which elephants and chariots could hurt. For the latter 
disordered you in the middle of the fight, while the former may impede you 
only before the fight—and infantry easily escape this impediment when they 
shoot, either by seeking cover from the nature of the site or by lowering 
themselves on the ground when they shoot. Even this is seen by experience 
not to be necessary, especially to defend oneself from heavy artillery, which 
cannot be balanced in such a mode that it does not either go high and not 
find you or go low and not reach you. When armies then get hand to hand, it 
is clearer than fight that neither the heavy nor the small ones can hurt 9 you. 
For if they have the artillery in front, it becomes your prisoner; if it is 
behind, it hurts 10 their friends rather than you; on the flanks 11 it still cannot 
wound you in such a mode that you cannot go and encounter it, and from 
that will follow the said effect. Nor is this much disputed. For one sees the 
example of the Swiss, who at Novara in 1513 went without artillery and 
without horse to meet the French army, which was provided with artillery 
inside its fortresses, and broke it without suffering any impediment from 
them. And the reason is, besides the things said above, that for artillery to 
be able to work it needs to be guarded by walls or by trenches or by 
barricades; and if it lacks one of these guardians, it becomes a prisoner or 
useless, as happens when it has to be defended by men, which happens in 
battles and fights in the field. On the flank it cannot be put to work except in 
the mode that the ancients put to work shooting instruments, which they put 
outside their squadrons so they could engage in combat outside their ranks; 
and whenever they were shoved back by cavalry or by others, their refuge 
was behind the legions. Whoever counts on it otherwise does not understand 
it well, and trusts in a thing that can easily deceive him. And if the Turk has 
had victory over the Sophy and the sultan by means of artillery, 12 it arose 
not from any virtue of it other than the fright that its unaccustomed noise 
put into their cavalry. 


[6] Coming to the end of this discourse, I therefore conclude that artillery is 
useful in an army when ancient virtue is mixed with it, but without that, 
against a virtuous army, it is very useless. 


« 18 ?* 

How by the Authority of the Romans and 
by the Example of the Ancient Military 
Infantry Should Be Esteemed More Than 


[1] It can be clearly demonstrated by many reasons and many examples how 
much more the Romans esteemed the military on foot than on horseback in 
all their military actions. On it they founded all the plans of their forces, as 
is seen by many examples, among others when they fought with the Latins 
near Lake Regillus, where, when the Roman army was already bending, they 
made their men on horseback dismount on foot to relieve it, and by 
renewing the fight in this way had the victory. 1 The Romans are manifestly 
seen here to have trusted in them more when they were on foot than when 
they were kept on horseback. They used this same extreme in many other 
fights and always found it the best remedy for their dangers. 

[2] Nor should one oppose to this the opinion of Hannibal, who, on seeing 
that the consuls in the battle of Cannae had made their cavalrymen 
dismount on foot, made a joke of such a policy, saying: “Quam mallem 
vinctos mihi traderent equites!” —that is, “I should prefer that they give 
them to me bound.” Even though this opinion may have been in the mouth 
of a very excellent man, nonetheless if one has to follow authority, one 
should believe in a Roman republic and so many very excellent captains 
who were in it more than in one Hannibal alone. Even without authorities 
there are manifest reasons for it. For a man on foot can go many places 
where a horse cannot go. He can be taught to observe order, and that he has 
to resume it if it is disturbed; it is difficult to make horses observe order, 
and impossible to reorder them when they are disturbed. Besides this, as in 
men, some horses are found that have little spirit and some that have very 
much; and often it happens that a spirited horse is ridden by a cowardly 
man, and a cowardly horse by a spirited one, and, in whichever mode this 


disparity occurs, from it arises uselessness and disorder. Ordered infantry 
can easily break horse, and only with difficulty be defeated by them. Besides 
many ancient and modern examples, this opinion is corroborated by the 
authority of those who give rules for civil things, where they show that at 
first wars began to be made with horse, since there was yet no order for 
infantry. But when they were put in order, it was known at once how much 
more useful they were than the former. It is not so, however, that because of 
this, horse are not necessary in armies to perform reconnaissances, to raid 
and prey upon countries, to follow enemies when they are in flight, and to be 
also in part an opposition to the horse of the adversaries. But the foundation 
and the sinew of the army, and that which should be esteemed more, should 
be the infantry. 

[3] Among the sins of the Italian princes that have made Italy servile toward 
foreigners, there is none greater than having taken little account of this 
order, and having turned all one’s care to the military on horseback. This 
disorder has arisen from the malignity of the heads and from the ignorance 
of those who held states. For since the Italian military was transferred 
twenty-five years ago to men who did not hold states but were like captains 
of fortune, 3 they at once thought of how they could maintain their 
reputation while staying armed themselves with the princes unarmed. Since 
a large number of infantrymen could not be continually paid by them, and 
they did not have subjects they could avail themselves of, and a small 
number did not give them reputation, they turned to keeping horse. For two 
hundred or three hundred horse that were paid by a condottiere maintained 
his reputation, and the payment was not such that it could not be fulfilled by 
the men who held states. So that this would continue more easily and so as 
to maintain their reputation, they removed all affection and reputation for 
infantrymen, and transferred it to their horse. They increased so much in 
this disorder that in the largest army whatever the least part was infantry. 
This usage, together with many other disorders that were mixed with it, 
made the Italian military weak in such a mode that this province has been 
easily trampled on by all the ultramontanes. This error of esteeming horse 
more than infantry is shown more openly by another Roman example. 
When the Romans were encamped at Sora, a crowd of horse came out of 
the town to assault the camp, and the Roman master of the horse went 
against them with his cavalry and met them chest to chest. Fate had it that 
in the first encounter the heads of both armies died. While the others 
remained without government and the fight continued nonetheless, the 


Romans dismounted on foot so as to overcome the enemy more easily and 
constrained the enemy cavalrymen to do likewise, if they wished to defend 
themselves. Because of all this, the Romans brought back the victory. 4 No 
example could be greater than this in demonstrating how much more virtue 
there is in infantry than in horse. For if in other struggles the consuls made 
the Roman cavalrymen dismount, it was to relieve the infantry who were 
suffering and had need of aid, but in this place they dismounted neither to 
succor the infantry nor to combat enemy men on foot, but, doing combat on 
horseback against horse, they judged that while they could not overcome 
them on horseback they could more easily defeat them by dismounting. I 
wish thus to conclude that ordered infantry cannot be overcome without 
very great difficulty, unless by other infantry. The Romans Crassus and Mark 
Antony ran through the dominion of the Parthians for many days with very 
few horse and very many infantry, and had innumerable horse of the 
Parthians against them. Crassus with part of the army was left there dead; 
Mark Antony virtuously saved himself. Nonetheless in these Roman 
afflictions it is seen how much infantry prevailed over horse; for being in an 
extensive country, where mountains are rare, rivers very rare, the seas far 
away, and distant from every advantage, Mark Antony nonetheless, in the 
judgment of the Parthians themselves, very virtuously saved himself. Nor 
did all the Parthian cavalry ever dare to try the ranks of his army. If Crassus 
was left there, whoever will read well of his actions will see that it was by 
deception rather than force, nor did the Parthians ever in all his disorders 
dare to push against him; instead, always skirting around him, impeding his 
supplies, making promises and not observing them, they led him to extreme 
misery. 5 

[4] I would believe I had to undergo more labor in arguing 6 how much the 
virtue of infantry is more powerful than that of horse if there were not very 
many modern examples of it that render very full testimony for it. Nine 
thousand Swiss have been seen at Novara, cited by us above, to go and 
confront ten thousand horse and as many infantrymen, and defeat them. For 
the horse could not take the offensive against them, and they little esteemed 
the infantrymen because they were in good part Gascon troops and badly 
ordered. Then twenty-six thousand Swiss were seen to go above Milan to 
meet Francis, king of France, who had with him twenty thousand horse, 
forty thousand infantrymen, and a hundred artillery wagons. And if they did 
not win the battle as at Novara, they did combat virtuously for two days and 
then, when they were defeated, half of them saved themselves. 7 Marcus 


Regulus Attilius presumed with his infantry to stand up against not horse 
alone but elephants. And if his plan did not succeed, it was not because the 
virtue of his infantry was not so much that he could trust in it so much as to 
believe it could overcome that difficulty. 8 I repeat, therefore, that to 
overcome ordered infantrymen it is necessary to oppose them with 
infantrymen better ordered than they; otherwise one goes to a manifest loss. 
In the times of Filippo Visconti, duke of Milan, about sixteen thousand 
Swiss descended into Lombardy, where the duke, having Carmignuola then 
for his captain, sent him with about a thousand horse and a few infantrymen 
against them. 9 Not knowing their order of combat, he went to encounter 
them with his horse, presuming he could break them at once. But finding 
them immovable, and having lost many of his men, he withdrew. Being a 
very able man and knowing how to take up new policies among new 
accidents, he recovered more troops and went to meet them. Coming 
against them, he made all his men-at-arms dismount on foot, put them at 
the head of his infantry, and went to beset the Swiss. They did not have any 
remedy, for since the men-at-arms of Carmignuola were on foot and well 
armed they could easily enter among the ranks of the Swiss without 
suffering any damage, and having entered among them they could easily 
attack them, so that of all their number there remained alive [only] that part 
that was preserved by the humanity of Carmignuola. 10 

[5] I believe that many know the difference of virtue that there is between 
the one and the other of these orders; but so great is the unhappiness of 
these times that neither ancient examples nor modern nor confession of 
error is sufficient to make modern princes repent. They should think that if 
they wish to bestow reputation on the military of a province or a state, it is 
necessary to resuscitate these orders, keep near them, give them reputation, 
give them life, so that they may bestow both life and reputation on him. 11 
And as they deviate from these modes, so they deviate from the other modes 
spoken of above. Hence it arises that acquisitions are for the harm, not the 
greatness, of a state, as will be said below. 


« 19 ?* 

That Acquisitions by Republics That Are 
Not Well Ordered and That Do Not 
Proceed according to Roman Virtue Are 
for Their Ruin, Not Their Exaltation 

[1] These opinions contrary to the truth, founded on the bad examples that 
have been introduced by these corrupt centuries of ours, keep men from 
thinking of deviating from accustomed modes. When would one have been 
able to persuade an Italian up to thirty years ago that ten thousand 
infantrymen could assault ten thousand horse and as many infantrymen in a 
plain, and not only combat but defeat them, as one saw, by the example 
often cited by us, at Novara? 1 And although the histories may be full of it, 
they still would not have lent it their faith. And if they had lent it their faith, 
they would have said that in these times one is better armed, and that a 
squadron of men-at-arms would be capable of charging a cliff and not 
merely infantry—and thus they corrupted their judgment with these false 
excuses. Nor would they have considered that Lucullus with a few 
infantrymen broke a hundred and fifty thousand horse of Tigranes, and that 
among those cavalrymen were a sort of cavalry altogether similar to our 
men-at-arms. 2 And thus, as this fallacy has been uncovered by the example 
of the ultramontane troops, and as it is seen by it that all that is narrated 
about infantry in the histories is true, they ought to believe all the other 
ancient orders to be true and useful. 3 And if this were believed, republics 
and princes would err less, would be stronger in opposing a thrust that might 
come against them, and would not put their hope in flight; and those who 
have in their hands a civil way of life would know better how to direct it, 
either by way of expanding it or by way of maintaining it. And they would 
believe that increasing the inhabitants of one’s city, getting partners and not 
subjects, sending colonies to guard countries that have been acquired, 
making capital out of booty, subduing the enemy with raids and battles and 
not with sieges, keeping the public rich and the private poor, and 


maintaining military exercises with the highest seriousness is the true way 
to make a republic great and to acquire empire. And if this mode of 
expanding does not please them, one should think that acquisitions made by 
any other way are the ruin of republics, and should put a check on every 
ambition, regulate one’s city inside with laws and customs, prohibit 
acquisition, and think only of defending oneself and of keeping one’s 
defenses well ordered—as do the republics of Germany, which live and have 
lived freely in these modes for a time. Nonetheless, as I said at another 
point when I discoursed of the difference there was between ordering to 
acquire and ordering to maintain, it is impossible for a republic to succeed 
in staying quiet and enjoying its freedom and little borders. 4 For if it will 
not molest others, it will be molested, and from being molested will arise 
the wish and the necessity to acquire; and if it does not have an enemy 
outside, it will find one at home, as it appears necessarily happens to all 
great cities. And if the republics of Germany can live in that mode, and 
have been able to endure for a time, it arises from certain conditions in that 
country that are not elsewhere, without which they could not keep to a like 
mode of life. 

[2] That part of Germany of which I speak was subject to the Roman 
Empire as were France and Spain, but when it came into decline and its 
title to empire was reduced in that province, the more powerful of those 
cities, to make themselves free, began buying themselves off from the 
empire by reserving to it a small annual payment, according to the 
cowardice or necessity of the emperors, so that little by little all those cities 
that were directly under the emperor and not subject to any prince bought 
themselves off in like mode. In the same times that these cities bought 
themselves off, it occurred that certain communities subject to the duke of 
Austria rebelled against him, among which were Fribourg and the Swiss 
and the like. Prospering in the beginning, they little by little achieved so 
much increase that they not only did not return under the yoke of Austria, 
but put all their neighbors in fear—they are those who are called the Swiss. 
Thus this province was divided into the Swiss, republics (whom they call 
free towns), princes, and emperor. And the cause why wars do not arise 
among so much diversity of ways of life, or if they arise they do not long 
endure, is that sign of the emperor, who, should he happen not to have 
forces, nonetheless has so much reputation among them that he is a 
conciliator for them, and eliminates every scandal with his authority by 
interposing himself as a mediator. The greater and longer wars that have 


been there are those that have occurred between the Swiss and the duke of 
Austria; and although for many years the emperor and the duke of Austria 
have been one and the same thing, he has not therefore ever been able to 
overcome the audacity of the Swiss, with whom there has never been any 
mode of accord unless by force. Nor has the rest of Germany brought him 
much aid; both because the communities do not know how to take the 
offensive against whoever wishes to live freely like them, and because those 
princes partly cannot because they are poor and partly will not because they 
are envious of his power. Those communities can thus live content with 
their small dominion, because, thanks 5 to the imperial authority, they do 
not have cause to desire more. They can live united inside their walls 
because they have nearby the enemy who would take the opportunity to 
seize them whenever they should be in discord. If that province were in 
other conditions, it would suit them to seek to expand and break that quiet 
of theirs. Since there are no such conditions elsewhere, one cannot take this 
mode of life and needs either to expand by way of leagues or to expand like 
the Romans. Whoever governs himself otherwise seeks not his life but his 
death and ruin, for in a thousand modes and from many causes his 
acquisitions are harmful. For he very likely acquires empire without forces, 
and whoever acquires empire without forces will be fittingly ruined. 
Whoever impoverishes himself through wars cannot acquire forces, even 
should he be victorious, since he spends more than he obtains from his 
acquisitions, as the Venetians and the Florentines have done, who have been 
much weaker when one had Lombardy and the other Tuscany than they 
were when one was content with the sea and the other with six miles of 
borders. For all arose from their having wished to acquire and not having 
known how to take up the mode to do so. They deserve more blame 
inasmuch as they have less excuse, since they saw the mode the Romans 
took and could have followed their example, while the Romans, without any 
example, by their own prudence, knew how to find it by themselves. Besides 
this, acquisitions sometimes do no middling harm to every well-ordered 
republic, when it acquires a city or a province full of delights, 6 whereby it 
can take their customs through the intercourse 7 it has with them, as 
happened first to Rome and then to Hannibal in the acquisition of Capua. 8 
If Capua had been more distant from the city, so that the remedy for the 
error of the soldiers would not have been nearby, or if Rome had been 
corrupt in some part, without doubt that acquisition would have been the 
ruin of the Roman republic. Titus Livy vouches for this with these words: 


“Even then least wholesome for military discipline, Capua, with its means 
for every pleasure, diverted the charmed spirits of the soldiers from the 
memory of their fatherland.” 9 And truly, similar cities or provinces avenge 
themselves against their conqueror without fighting and without blood, for 
by permeating it with their bad customs they expose it to being conquered 
by whoever assaults it. Juvenal in his Satires could not have better 
considered this part, saying that through the acquisition of foreign lands, 
foreign customs entered Roman breasts, and in exchange for thrift and other 
very excellent virtues, “gluttony and luxury have made their home and 
avenge a conquered world.” 10 If acquiring was thus about to be pernicious 
for the Romans in the times when they proceeded with so much prudence 
and so much virtue, what will it be for those who proceed so distantly from 
their modes, and who avail themselves of either mercenary or auxiliary 
soldiers, besides the other errors they make, which are much discoursed of 
above? From this the harms that will be mentioned in the following chapter 
often result for them. 


«20 ft 

What Danger That Prince or Republic 
Runs That Avails Itself of Auxiliary or 
Mercenary Military 

[1] If I had not treated at length in another work of mine 1 how useless 
mercenary or auxiliary military is, and how useful one’s own is, I would 
extend myself in this discourse much more than I will do. But since I have 
spoken of it at length elsewhere, I will be brief in this part. Nor has it 
seemed to me that I should pass it by, since I found in Titus Livy such an 
extensive example as to auxiliary soldiers. For auxiliary soldiers are those 
whom a prince or republic sends, captained and paid by it, for your aid. 
Coming to the text of Livy, I say that when the Romans with their armies, 
which they had sent for the relief of the Capuans, had defeated two armies 
of Samnites in two different places, and thereby freed the Capuans from the 
war the Samnites made against them, and they wished to return to Rome, 
they left two legions in the country of Capua to defend the Capuans so they 
would not be despoiled of a garrison and become prey anew to the 
Samnites. 2 These legions, rotting in idleness, began to take delight in it; so 
much so that, having forgotten their fatherland and their reverence for the 
Senate, they thought about taking up arms and making themselves lords of 
that country that they had defended with their virtue. For it appeared to 
them that the inhabitants were not worthy of possessing those goods that 
they did not know how to defend. Having foreseen this thing, the Romans 
crushed and corrected it, 3 as will be shown extensively where we speak of 
conspiracies. 4 I therefore say anew that of all the other kinds of soldiers, 
auxiliaries are the most harmful, for the prince or republic who puts them 
to work in his aid does not have any authority over them, but he who sends 
them alone has authority there. For auxiliary soldiers are those who are sent 
to you by a prince, as I have said, under his captains, under his insignia, and 
paid by him, as was that army the Romans sent to Capua. Such soldiers, 
when they have conquered, usually prey as much on him who has led them 


as on him against whom they are led; they do so either through the malignity 
of the prince who sends them or through their own ambition. Although the 
intention of the Romans was not to break the accord and the conventions 
they had made with the Capuans, nonetheless the ease with which those 
soldiers could crush them seemed so great that it could persuade them to 
think of taking from the Capuans their town and their state. Very many 
examples of this could be given, but I wish this to be enough and also that 
of the Rhegini, whose life and town were taken away by a legion that the 
Romans had put there as a guard. 5 A prince or a republic should then take 
up any other policy rather than having recourse to leading auxiliary troops 
into his state for his defense if he has to trust altogether in them, for any 
pact, any convention, however hard, that he has with the enemy will be 
lighter for him than such a policy. If past things are read well and those of 
the present are reviewed, it will be found that for one who has had a good 
end from this, infinite ones were left deceived by it. A prince or an 
ambitious republic cannot have a greater opportunity for seizing a city or a 
province than to be asked to send his armies to its defense. Therefore he 
who is so ambitious that he calls in such aid, not only to defend himself but 
to take the offensive against others, seeks to acquire that which he cannot 
hold and which can be easily taken away from him by him who acquires it 
for him. But so great is the ambition of man that to obtain a present wish he 
does not think of the evil that in a brief time is to result from it. Nor in this, 
as in other things discoursed of, do ancient examples move him, for if they 6 
were moved by them they would see that the more liberality is shown 
toward neighbors and the more aversion to seizing them, the more they fling 
themselves into one’s lap, as will be said below through the example of the 


21 n 

The First Praetor the Romans Sent 
Anyplace Was to Capua, Four Hundred 
Years after They Began to Make War 

[1] How different the Romans were in their mode of proceeding in 
acquisition from those who in the present times expand their jurisdiction 
has been very much discoursed of above; 1 also that they let those towns they 
did not demolish live under their own laws, even those that surrendered not 
as partners but as subjects. They did not leave in them any sign of the 
empire of the Roman people but obliged them to some conditions, which, if 
observed, kept them in their state and dignity. These modes are known to 
have been observed until they went out of Italy and began to reduce 
kingdoms and states to provinces. 

[2] There is no clearer example of this than that the first praetor sent by 
them to any place was to Capua, which they sent there not from their 
ambition but because they were asked by the Capuans, who, since there was 
discord among them, judged it necessary to have a Roman citizen inside the 
city who would reorder and reunite them. Moved by this example and 
constrained by the same necessity, the Anzianti also asked them for a 
prefect. 2 Titus Livy says about this accident and this new mode of ruling, 
“For now not only Roman arms, but laws, prevailed.” 3 One sees, therefore, 
how much this mode made Roman increase easy. For those cities especially 
that are used to living freely or accustomed to being governed by those of 
their own province remain content more quietly under a dominion they do 
not see, even though it may have in itself some hardship, than under one 
they see every day that appears to them to reprove them every day for their 
servitude. There follows closely from this another good for the prince. Since 
his ministers do not have in hand the judges and magistrates who render 
civil or criminal justice 4 in those cities, there can never arise a judgment 5 
with disapproval or infamy for the prince; and this way many causes of 
calumny and hatred toward him are lacking. [To see] that this is true, 


besides the ancient examples of it that could be brought up, there is a fresh 
example of it in Italy. For, as everyone knows, Genoa having often been 
seized by the French, the king has always, except in the present times, sent a 
French governor who governs it in his name. At present alone, not by the 
king’s choice but because necessity has thus ordered it, he has let that city 
be governed by itself and by a Genoese governor. 6 Without doubt whoever 
seeks which of these two modes brings more security to the king in his rule 
over it, and more contentment to the populace, would without doubt 
approve this last mode. Besides this, men fling themselves into your lap so 
much more the more you appear averse from seizing them; and they fear 
you so much less on account of their freedom the more you are humane and 
tame with them. This tameness and liberality made the Capuans run to the 
Romans to ask for a praetor; if the Romans had demonstrated the least wish 
to send one, they would at once have become jealous and would have 
distanced themselves from them. But what need is there to go for examples 
to Capua and Rome, having them in Florence and Tuscany? Everyone 
knows how much time it has been since the city of Pistoia came voluntarily 
under Florentine rule. Everyone also knows how much enmity there has 
been between the Florentines and the Pisans, Lucchese, and Sienese. This 
difference of spirit has arisen not because the Pistoiese do not prize their 
freedom as do the others and do not judge themselves as highly as the others 
but because the Florentines have always comported themselves with them 
like brothers but with the others like enemies. This has made the Pistoiese 
run willingly under their rule, while the others have exerted and exert all 
their force so as not to come under it. And without doubt if the Florentines 
by way either of laws or of aids had tamed their neighbors and not made 
them savage, they would without doubt at this hour be lords of Tuscany. 
This does not mean I judge that arms and force do not have to be put to 
work, but they should be reserved for the last place, where and when other 
modes are not enough. 



How False the Opinions of Men Often Are 
in Judging Great Things 

[1] How false the opinions of men often are has been seen and is seen by 
those who find themselves witnesses of their decisions, which, if they are 
not decided by excellent men, are often contrary to every truth. Because 
excellent men in corrupt republics, especially in quiet times, are treated as 
enemies, either from envy or from other ambitious causes, one goes behind 
someone who either is judged to be good through a common deception or is 
put forward by men who wish for the favor rather than the good of the 
collectivity. This deception is uncovered afterward in adverse times, and by 
necessity refuge is sought in those who were nearly forgotten in quiet times, 
as will be fully discoursed of in its place. 1 Certain accidents also arise about 
which men who have not had great experience of things are easily deceived, 
since the accident that arises has in itself much verisimilitude capable of 
making men believe whatever they are persuaded of about such a thing. 
These things have been said because of what Numisius the praetor 
persuaded the Latins of after they were defeated by the Romans 2 and 
because of what was believed by many a few years ago when Francis I, king 
of France, came to acquire Milan, which was defended by the Swiss. 3 I say, 
therefore, that when Louis XII was dead and Francis of Angouleme, who 
succeeded to the kingdom of France, desired to restore to the kingdom the 
duchy of Milan seized a few years before by the Swiss at the encouragement 
of Pope Julius II, 4 he desired to have aid in Italy that would make his 
enterprise easier. Besides the Venetians, whom Louis had won over, 5 he 
tried the Florentines and Pope Leo X, for it seemed to him that his 
enterprise would be easier when he should have won them over, since 
troops of the king of Spain were in Lombardy and other forces of the 
emperor were in Verona. Pope Leo did not cede to the king’s wishes but 
was persuaded by those who counseled him (according to what is said) to 
stay neutral, since they showed him that in this policy consisted certain 
victory. 6 For it did not suit the church to have powers in Italy, neither the 


king nor the Swiss, but since he wished to return it to its ancient freedom, it 
was necessary to free it from servitude to both the one and the other. 
Because it was not possible to conquer the one and the other, either by 
themselves or both together, one of them had to overcome the other, so that 
the church with its friends might strike the one that then would be left the 
victor. It was impossible to find a better opportunity than the present, since 
both the one and the other were in the field, and the pope had his forces in 
order so they could present themselves on the borders of Lombardy near 
both the one and the other armies, under color of wishing to guard his own 
affairs, and stay there until they should come to battle. It was reasonable, 
since both the one and the other armies were virtuous, that this would be 
bloody for all in both parties, and leave the victor in a weakened mode, so 
that it would be easy for the pope to assault him and break him. Thus he 
would be left with his glory as the lord of Lombardy and arbiter of all Italy. 
How false this opinion was is seen from the result of the affair: for when the 
Swiss were overcome after a long fight, 7 the troops of the pope and of Spain 
did not presume to assault the victors but prepared for flight. Even that 
would not have helped them if it had not been for the humanity or the 
coldness of the king, who did not seek a second victory, but for whom it 
was enough to make an accord with the church. 

[2] This opinion has certain reasons that at a distance appear true but are 
altogether alien from the truth. For it rarely happens that the victor loses 
very many of his soldiers, for some of the victors die in the fight but none in 
the flight—and in the ardor of combat, when men have turned face to face, 
few of them fall, especially because it most often lasts for a short time. And 
if, however, it lasts for very much time and very many of the victors die, so 
great are the reputation that victory draws behind it and the terror that it 
carries with it that it by far exceeds the harm that he has endured through 
the death of his soldiers. So that if one army went to find him in the opinion 
that he would be weakened, it would find itself deceived, unless that army 
were such that it could already combat him at any time, both before the 
victory and afterward. In this case it could win or lose according to its 
fortune and virtue, but that which fought before and won would have the 
advantage rather than the other. This is known with certainty from the 
experience of the Latins, from the fallacy that Numisius the praetor took 
up, and from the harm the peoples who believed him received from it. After 
the Romans had conquered the Latins, he cried out through all the country 
of Latium that then was the time to assault the Romans, who were 


weakened by the fight they had had with them; that the Romans were left a 
victory only in name, while they had endured all the other harms as if they 
had been conquered; and that any little force that should assault them anew 
could finish them. Therefore the peoples who believed him made a new 
army and were at once defeated and suffered the harm that those always 
will suffer who hold such opinions. 8 


«23 M 

How Much the Romans, in Judging 
Subjects for Some Accidents That 
Necessitated Such Judgment, Fled from the 

Middle Way 

[1] “Now in Latium the state of affairs was such that they could endure 
neither peace nor war.” 1 

[2] Of all unhappy states the unhappiest is that of a prince or a republic 
brought to the extreme where it cannot accept peace or sustain war. Those 
are brought there who are offended too much by the conditions of peace 
and, on the other side, if they wish to make war, must either throw 
themselves forth as prey for whoever aids them or be left as prey for the 
enemy. To all these extremes one comes through bad counsels and bad 
policies from not having measured one’s forces well, as is said above. 2 For 
the republic or prince that measures them well is led only with difficulty 
into the extreme the Latins were led into. When they should not have come 
to an accord with the Romans they did come to an accord, and when they 
should not have declared 3 war with them they did declare it. Thus they 
knew how to act in such a mode that the enmity and the friendship of the 
Romans were equally harmful to them. The Latins were then conquered and 
altogether afflicted first by Manlius Torquatus and then by Camillus, who, 
after constraining them to give in and consign themselves into the arms 4 of 
the Romans, putting guards through all the towns of Latium, and taking 
hostages from all of them, returned to Rome and reported to the Senate that 
all Latium was in the hands of the Roman people. 5 Because this judgment 
is notable and deserves to be observed so that it can be imitated when 
similar opportunities are given to princes, I wish to bring up the words of 
Livy put in the mouth of Camillus. They vouch both for the mode of 
expansion the Romans took and for how in judgments of state they always 
fled from the middle way and turned to extremes. For a government is 


nothing other than holding subjects in such a mode that they cannot or 
ought not offend you. This is done either by securing oneself against them 
altogether, taking from them every way of hurting you, or by benefiting 
them in such a mode that it would not be reasonable for them to desire to 
change fortune. All this is comprised first by Camillus’s proposal and then by 
the judgment on it given by the Senate. His words were these: “The 
immortal gods have made you so powerful over this decision as to put the 
decision in your hands whether Latium is to be or not to be. Therefore you 
can provide perpetual peace for yourselves, as far as pertains to the Latins, 
either by raging or by forgiving. Do you wish to make very cruel decisions 
against those who have surrendered and been conquered? You may destroy 
all Latium. Do you wish to increase the Roman republic 6 on the example of 
your forefathers by accepting the conquered into citizenship? Matter is at 
hand for growing by means of the greatest glory. That rule is certainly the 
firmest that is obeyed gladly. Therefore, while their spirits are stupefied with 
expectation, you should preoccupy them either with punishment or with 
benefit.” 7 The decision of the Senate followed this proposal in accordance 
with the words of the consul. 8 Bringing forward, town by town, all those of 
some moment, they either benefited them or eliminated them. They gave 
exemptions and privileges to those who were benefited, giving them 
citizenship 9 and securing them on every side. They demolished the towns of 
the others, sent colonies there, brought them to Rome, and dispersed them 
so that they could no longer hurt either through arms or through counsel. 
Nor did they, as I said, 10 ever use the neutral way in affairs of moment. 

[3] Princes ought to imitate this judgment. The Florentines ought to have 
come close to this when Arezzo and all the Val di Chiana rebelled in 
1502. 11 If they had done so, they would have secured their rule, made the 
city of Florence very great, and given themselves the fields they lacked to 
live off. But they used that middle way that is very harmful in judging men: 
they exiled part of the Aretines, fined part of them, took away from all of 
them their honors and former ranks in the city, and left the city intact. If 
any citizen counseled in the deliberations that Arezzo should be 
demolished, those who to themselves seemed wiser said that it would be of 
little honor to the republic to demolish it since it would seem that Florence 
lacked forces to hold it. These reasons are among those that seem true and 
are not, since by this same reason a parricide or someone criminal and 
scandalous would not have to be killed, since it would be a shame for the 
prince to show he does not have forces able to check one man alone. Such 


as have similar opinions do not see that men individually, and a whole city 
together, sometimes sin against a state so that a prince has no remedy other 
than to eliminate it as an example to the others and for his own security. 
Honor consists in being able and knowing how to punish it, not in being 
able to hold it with a thousand dangers, for the prince who does not punish 
whoever errs in such a mode that he can err no more is held to be either 
ignorant or cowardly. 

[4] How necessary this judgment is that the Romans gave is also confirmed 
by the sentence they gave on the Privernates. 12 Here two things should be 
noted from Livy’s text: one, that which is said above, that subjects should be 
either benefited or eliminated; the other, how much generosity of spirit, 
how much speaking the truth helps, when it is said in the presence of 
prudent men. The Roman Senate was gathered to judge the Privernates, 
who after having rebelled were then by force returned under Roman 
obedience. Many citizens were sent by the people of Privernum to beseech 
pardon from the Senate, and when they came into its presence one of the 
senators asked one of them “what punishment did he consider the 
Privernates deserved.” 13 To this the Privernate responded, “That which they 
deserve who consider themselves worthy of freedom.” To this the consul 
replied, “If we remit your punishment, what sort of peace can we hope to 
have with you?” To which he responded, “If you give a good one, both 
faithful and perpetual; if a bad one, not long-lasting.” 14 Whereupon, even 
though many were upset by this, the wiser part of the Senate said, “The 
voice of a free man had been heard, nor could it be believed that any people 
or indeed any man should remain in a condition that was painful longer 
than was necessary. Peace is faithful where men are willingly pacified, nor 
could faith be hoped for in that place where they wished for servitude.” 
Upon these words they decided that the Privernates should be Roman 
citizens and honored them with the privileges of citizenship, saying, “Only 
those who think of nothing except freedom are worthy to become 
Romans.” 15 So much did this true and generous response please generous 
spirits, for any other response would have been lying and cowardly. Those 
who believe otherwise of men, especially of those used to being or to 
seeming to themselves to be free, are deceived in this, and under this 
deception take up policies that are not good for themselves and not such as 
to satisfy them. From this arise frequent rebellions and the ruin of states. 
But to return to our discourse, I conclude from this and from the judgment 
given on the Latins that when one has to judge powerful cities that are used 


to living freely, one must either eliminate them or caress them; otherwise 
every judgment is in vain. 16 One ought to flee altogether from the middle 
way, which is harmful, as it was to the Samnites when they had closed off 
the Romans at the Caudine Forks. 17 They did not then wish to follow the 
view of the old man who counseled them to let the Romans go honorably or 
kill them all, but took a middle way, disarming them and putting them 
under the yoke, letting them go full of ignominy and indignation. So a little 
later they came to know through their harm that the judgment of that old 
man had been useful and their decision harmful, as will be fully discoursed 
of in its place. 18 


m24 M 

Fortresses Are Generally Much More 
Harmful Than Useful 

[1] To the wise of our times it will perhaps seem a thing not well considered 
that when the Romans wished to secure themselves against the peoples of 
Latium and of the city of Privernum, 1 they did not think of building some 
fortress, which would be a check to keep them faithful, 2 especially since it 
is a saying in Florence, cited by our wise ones, that Pisa and other similar 
cities should be held with fortresses. 3 And truly if the Romans had been 
made like them, they would have thought of building some; but because 
they were of another virtue, of another judgment, of another power, they 
did not build any. While Rome lived freely and followed its orders and its 
virtuous institutions, it never built any to hold either cities or provinces; but 
it did save 4 some of those that had been built. Hence, having seen the 
Romans’ mode of proceeding in this business and that of the princes of our 
times, it seems to me that it must be put into consideration whether it is 
good to build fortresses, or whether they do harm or are useful to him who 
builds them. Thus it should be considered that fortresses are made either to 
defend oneself from enemies or to defend oneself from subjects. In the first 
case they are not necessary; in the second they are harmful. Beginning to 
give reasons why they are harmful in the second case, I say that for the 
prince or republic that fears his or its subjects and their rebellion, such fear 
must first arise from the hatred one’s subjects have for one, the hatred from 
one’s bad behavior, and the bad behavior either from believing one can hold 
them by force or from the lack of prudence of whoever governs them. One 
of the things that make one believe he can force them is having fortresses 
next to them; for the bad treatment that is the cause of their hatred arises in 
good part from the prince’s or the republic’s having fortresses, which, when 
this is true, are far more hurtful than useful. For first, as was said, they make 
you more audacious and more violent toward your subjects. Then there is 
not the security inside them that you persuade yourself of, since all the 
forces and all the violence that are used to hold a people are null except for 


two: either you are always able to put a good army in the field, as the 
Romans were; or you disperse, eliminate, disorder, and disunite them in 
such a mode that they cannot get together to hurt you. Because if you 
impoverish them, “arms remain to the despoiled”; 5 if you disarm them, 
“fury supplies arms”; 6 if you kill their heads and follow by injuring the 
others, the heads are reborn like those of the Hydra. If you make fortresses, 
they are useful in times of peace because they give you more spirit to do 
evil to them, but they are very useless in times of war because they are 
assaulted by the enemy and by subjects; nor is it possible for them to put up 
resistance to both the one and the other. And if ever they were less than 
useless, it is in our times, in respect to artillery, because of whose fury it is 
impossible to defend small places where one cannot withdraw to 
embankments, as we discoursed of above. 8 

[2] I wish to dispute this matter in more detail. Either you, prince, wish to 
hold the people of your city in check with these fortresses, or you, prince or 
republic, wish to check a city seized by war. I wish to turn to the prince, 
and I say to him that to hold his citizens in check such a fortress cannot be 
more useless, for the causes said above. For it makes you more prompt and 
less hesitant to crush them, and this crushing makes them so disposed 
toward your ruin and inflames them so that the fortress, which is the cause 
of that, cannot then defend you. So much so that a wise and good prince, so 
as to keep himself good and not to give cause to or dare his sons to become 
bad, will never make a fortress, so that they may found themselves not upon 
fortresses but upon the benevolence of men. And if Count Francesco Sforza, 
who became duke of Milan, was reputed wise and nonetheless made a 
fortress in Milan, I say that in this he was not wise, and the effect has 
demonstrated that such a fortress was for his heirs’ harm, not their security. 
For, judging that by means of it they could live securely while offending 
their citizens and subjects, they did not spare 9 any kind of violence, so that 
having become hateful beyond measure, 10 they lost that state when the 
enemy first assaulted them. 11 In war that fortress neither defended them nor 
was at all useful to them, and in peace it was of very much harm to them. 
For if they had not had it, and if by their little prudence they had harshly 
managed their citizens, they would have uncovered the danger sooner and 
have withdrawn from it, and then would have been able to resist the French 
thrust more spiritedly with friendly subjects and without a fortress than with 
enemy ones and with the fortress. They do not help you in any aspect, for 


they are lost either through the fraud of whoever guards them, or through 
the violence of whoever assaults them, or through starvation. And if you 
wish that they should help you and aid you to recover a lost state, where the 
fortress alone is left to you, you must have an army with which you can 
assault him who has expelled you. And if you had that army, you would get 
the state back in any case, even if the fortress were not there, and so much 
the more easily as the men would be more friendly to you than they were to 
you when you had badly treated them because of the pride of the fortress. It 
is seen from experience that this fortress of Milan has not done anything 
useful to either of them, neither the Sforzas nor the French, in times 
adverse to the one or the other. Instead it has brought very much harm and 
ruin to all, since because of it they did not think of a more honest mode of 
holding that state. When Guidobaldo, duke of Urbino and son of Federico, 
who in his times was such an esteemed captain, was expelled from his state 
by Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI, and then returned there 
through an accident that arose, he had all the fortresses that were in that 
province ruined, since he judged them harmful. Since he was loved by men, 
out of respect for them he did not want [fortresses]; and he saw he could not 
defend [fortresses] on the enemy’s account, since an army in the field was 
needed to defend them; so he turned to ruining them. Having expelled the 
Bentivogli from Bologna, Pope Julius made a fortress in that city, and then 
had the people vexed 12 by his governor. 13 The people therefore rebelled, he 
lost the fortress at once, and thus the fortress did not help him and did hurt 
him, whereas if he had behaved otherwise it would have helped him. When 
Niccolo da Castello, father of the Vitelli, 14 returned to his fatherland, from 
which he had been exiled, he at once demolished two fortresses Pope Sixtus 
IV had built there, judging that not the fortress but the benevolence of the 
people had to keep him in that state. But of all the other examples, that of 
Genoa, which ensued in very recent times, is the freshest and most notable 
in every aspect, and capable of showing the uselessness of building 
[fortresses] and the utility of demolishing them. Everyone knows that in 
1507 Genoa rebelled against Louis XII, king of France, who came in person 
with all his forces to reacquire it. When he had recovered it, he made a 
fortress stronger than all the others of which there is knowledge at present. 
For it was impregnable by its site and by every other circumstance, being 
placed upon the top of a hill that extends into the sea, called Codefa by the 
Genoese. From it he could fire on the whole port and a great part of the city 
of Genoa. It occurred then in 1512 that when the French troops were 
expelled from Italy, Genoa rebelled, notwithstanding the fortress; Ottaviano 


Fregoso took over its state; and, with all industry, within a limit of sixteen 
months he captured it by starvation. Everyone believed and many counseled 
that he should have preserved it as his refuge for any accident, but being 
very prudent he knew that not fortresses but the will of men maintains 
princes in their states, and he ruined it. Thus founding his state not upon the 
fortress but upon his virtue and prudence, he has held and holds it. And 
whereas a thousand infantrymen were customarily enough to vary the state 
of Genoa, his adversaries have assaulted him with ten thousand and have 
not been able to hurt him. By this it is thus seen that demolishing the 
fortress has not hurt Ottaviano and making it did not defend the king. For if 
he were able to come into Italy with his army, he could have recovered 
Genoa though he did not have a fortress there; but if he were unable to 
come into Italy with his army, he could not have held Genoa though he did 
have the fortress there. Thus for the king it was expensive to make and 
shameful to lose; for Ottaviano it was glorious to reacquire and useful to 

[3] But let us come to the republics that make fortresses not in their 
fatherlands but in towns they acquire. And if the said example of France 
and Genoa should not be enough to show this fallacy, I wish Florence and 
Pisa to be enough for me. The Florentines made fortresses there to hold that 
city. They did not know that if they wished to hold a city that had always 
been an enemy to the Florentine name, had lived freely, and had in rebellion 
had freedom as its refuge, it was necessary to observe the Roman mode: 
either to make it a partner or to demolish it. For the fortresses’ virtue was 
seen during the coming of King Charles, 15 to whom they were given up 
either through the lack of faith of those who guarded them or through fear 
of a greater evil; whereas if there had not been any, the Florentines would 
not have founded on them their ability 16 to hold Pisa, and the king would 
not have been able to deprive the Florentines of that city in that way. The 
modes by which it had been kept until that time would perhaps have been 
sufficient to preserve it, and without doubt would not have given a worse 
proof than the fortresses. I conclude thus that for holding one’s own 
fatherland a fortress is harmful, and for holding towns that have been 
acquired fortresses are useless. I wish to be enough for me the authority of 
the Romans, who knocked down walls and did not put up walls in the lands 
they wished to hold by violence. To whoever cites to me against this opinion 
Taranto 17 in ancient and Brescia in modern times (which places were 
recovered from the rebellion of subjects by means of fortresses), I respond 


that for the recovery of Taranto at the end 18 of a year Fabius Maximus was 
sent with all of his army, which would have been capable of recovering it 
even if the fortress had not been there—and even if Fabius did use that way, 
if it had not been there he would have used another that would have had the 
same effect. I do not know of what utility a fortress may be to restore a 
town to you that for its recovery has need of a consular army and a Fabius 
Maximus for captain. And that the Romans would have retaken it in any 
case is seen by the example of Capua, where there was no fortress and they 
reacquired it by virtue of the army. But let us come to Brescia. I say that 
what occurred in that rebellion rarely occurs: that the fortress that is left 
with your forces when the town has rebelled has an army that is big and 
nearby, like that of the French. For Monsieur de Foix, the king’s captain, 
was with his army at Bologna, and when he heard of the loss of Brescia he 
went without at that point deferring it, arrived in three days at Brescia, and 
got back the town through the fortress. To be able to help, therefore, even 
the fortress of Brescia had need of a Monsieur de Foix and of a French 
army that brought it relief in three days. Thus this example is not enough 
against the contrary examples; for in the wars of our times very many 
fortresses have been taken and retaken with the same fortune with which 
the countryside was retaken and taken, not only in Lombardy, but in the 
Romagna, in the kingdom of Naples, and throughout all parts of Italy. 

[4] But as to the building of fortresses to defend oneself from enemies from 
outside, I say that they are not necessary to peoples and kingdoms that have 
good armies and are useless to those that do not have good armies. For good 
armies without fortresses are sufficient to defend oneself, and fortresses 
without good armies cannot defend you. This is seen from the experience of 
those who have been held to be excellent both in government and in other 
things, as is seen with the Romans and the Spartans: for if the Romans did 
not build fortresses, the Spartans not only abstained from them but did not 
permit their cities to have walls, for they wished for the virtue of the 
individual man to defend them, and no other defense. Wherefore when a 
Spartan was asked by an Athenian if the walls of Athens seemed to him 
beautiful, he responded, “Yes, if they were inhabited by women.” 19 Thus if 
a prince who has good armies has some fortress upon the seacoast at the 
frontier of his state that can stand up against the enemy for several days 
until he is in order, it would sometimes be a useful thing but is not 
necessary. But if the prince does not have a good army, to have fortresses 
throughout his state or at the frontiers is harmful or useless. Harmful since 


he easily loses them, and when lost they make war on him; or if they are, 
however, so strong that the enemy cannot seize them, they are left behind by 
the enemy army and come to be fruitless. For when they do not have very 
hardy opposition, good armies enter into enemy countries without 
hesitation over cities or fortresses that they may leave behind, as is seen in 
the ancient histories and as is seen to have been clone by Francesco 
Maria, 20 who to assault Urbino in very recent times left behind ten enemy 
cities without any hesitation. Thus a prince who can make a good army can 
do without building fortresses; one who does not have a good army should 
not build them. He should fortify well the city he inhabits and keep it 
provided and its citizens well disposed, to be able to sustain an enemy thrust 
until either an accord or external aid may free him. All other plans are 
expensive in times of peace and useless in times of war. And so he who will 
consider all I have said will come to know that as the Romans were wise in 
every other order of theirs, so were they prudent in this judgment of the 
Latins and of the Privernates, in which, not thinking of fortresses, they 
secured themselves against them with more virtuous and wiser modes. 


«25 a 

To Assault a Disunited City So As to Seize 
It by Means of Its Disunion Is a 
Contradictory Policy 

[1] There was so much disunion between the plebs and the nobility in the 
Roman republic that the Veientes, together with the Etruscans, thought that 
by means of such disunion they could extinguish the Roman name. When 
they had made an army and overrun the fields of Rome, the Senate sent 
against them Gaius Manilius and Marcus Fabius. When they led their army 
near the army of the Veientes, the Veientes did not cease both with assaults 
and with opprobrium to offend and reproach the Roman name. So great 
was their temerity and insolence that the Romans from being disunited 
became united and, coming to fight, broke them and won. 1 It is seen, 
therefore, how much men are deceived, as we discoursed of above, 2 in 
taking up policies, and how often they believe they will gain a thing and they 
lose it. The Veientes believed that by assaulting the disunited Romans they 
would conquer them; and this assault was the cause of the union of the 
latter and of their own ruin. For the cause of the disunion of republics is 
usually idleness and peace; the cause of union is fear and war. Therefore, if 
the Veientes had been wise, the more they saw Rome disunited, the more 
they would have kept war distant from them and sought to crush them with 
the arts of peace. The mode is to seek to become trusted by the city that is 
disunited, and to manage oneself between the parties as an arbiter until they 
come to arms. When they do come to arms, it is to give favors slowly to the 
weaker party, both to keep them at war longer and make them consume 
themselves and so that very large forces will not make them all fear that you 
wish to crush them and become their prince. When this business is well 
governed, it will almost always turn out to have the end that you set for 
yourself. The city of Pistoia, as I said in another discourse 3 and for another 
purpose, did not come under the republic of Florence by any art other than 
this. Since it was divided, with the Florentines favoring now one party and 


now the other, they led it, without disapproval from either the one or the 
other, to the limit where, tired of its tumultuous way of life, it came 
spontaneously to throw itself into the arms 4 of Florence. The city of Siena 
has never changed its state through the favor of the Florentines except when 
the favors have been weak and few. For when they have been very large and 
vigorous, they have made that city united in defense of the ruling state. I 
wish to add one other example to those written above. Filippo Visconti, 
duke of Milan, often started wars with the Florentines, founding himself on 
their disunion, and was always left the loser, so that he had to say, grieving 
over his enterprises, that the craziness of the Florentines had made him 
spend two million in gold uselessly. 

[2] Thus, as is said above, the Veientes and the Tuscans were left deceived 
by this opinion and were finally overcome in one battle by the Romans. And 
so in the future will anyone be left deceived by it who believes that by a 
similar way and by a similar cause he can crush a people. 


*$26 m 

Vilification and Abuse Generate Hatred 
against Those Who Use Them, without Any 

Utility to Them 

[1] I believe that one of the great prudences men use is to abstain from 
menacing or injuring anyone with words. For neither the one nor the other 
takes forces away from the enemy, but the one makes him more cautious 
and the other makes him have greater hatred against you and think with 
greater industry of how to hurt you. This is seen from the example of the 
Veientes, who were discoursed of in the chapter above. They added to the 
injury of the war against the Romans the opprobrium of words, from which 
every prudent captain should make his soldiers abstain. For they are things 
that ignite and inflame the enemy to revenge and, as was said, in no aspect 
impede his offense, so much so that those who come against you are all 
arms. A notable example of this once occurred in Asia, where Gabades, 
captain of the Persians, had been in camp at Amida for some time and, 
being tired of the tedium of the siege, decided to depart. Once he removed 
his camp, those in the town all came onto the walls, made proud by the 
victory, and did not spare 1 any kind of injury, reproaching, accusing, and 
reproving the cowardice and poltroonery of the enemy. Angered by this, 
Gabades changed his counsel and returned to the siege, and so great was the 
indignation from the injury that in a few days he took and plundered it. 2 
The same happened to the Veientes, for whom it was not enough, as was 
said, to make war on the Romans; they also vituperated them with words. 
Going as far as the stockade of their camp to speak injuriously to them, they 
angered them much more with words than with arms. Those soldiers who 
before had combated unwillingly constrained the consuls to join the fight so 
that the Veientes, like the aforesaid, bore the punishment of their 
contumacy. 3 Good princes of armies and good governors of republics have 
then to take every opportune remedy so that these injuries and reproofs may 
not be used either in the city or in his army, either among themselves or 


against the enemy. For used against the enemy the inconveniences written 
above come from them, and among themselves they would do worse if not 
provided against as prudent men have always provided against them. The 
Roman legions, having been left at Capua, conspired against the Capuans, as 
will be narrated in its place, 4 and when a sedition that arose from this 
conspiracy was quieted by Valerius Corvinus, among the other institutions 
in the convention that was made, they ordered very heavy punishments for 
those who should ever reprove any of those soldiers for that sedition. 5 When 
Tiberius Gracchus in the war with Hannibal was made captain over a 
certain number of slaves that the Romans from lack of men had armed, 
among the first things he ordered was capital punishment for anyone who 
should reprove any one of them for their servitude. 6 So much was it 
esteemed a harmful thing by the Romans, as was said above, to vilify men or 
to reprove them for anything shameful, for there is nothing that inflames 
their spirits so much or generates greater indignation, whether said as true 
or as a joke. “For pungent jokes, when drawn too much from truth, leave a 
bitter memory.” 7 


«27 M 

For Prudent Princes and Republics It 
Should Be Enough to Conquer, for Most 
Often When It Is Not Enough, One Loses 

[1] Using words of little honor against the enemy arises most often from an 
insolence that either victory or the false hope of victory gives you. This false 
hope makes men err not only in speaking but also in working. For when this 
hope enters into the breasts of men, it makes them pass beyond the mark 
and most often lose the opportunity of having a certain good through hoping 
to have an uncertain better. Because this is a limit that deserves 
consideration, since men are very often deceived about it to the harm of 
their state, it seems to me that it should be demonstrated through 
particulars, with ancient and modern examples, since it cannot be 
demonstrated so distinctly through reasons. After Hannibal had defeated the 
Romans at Cannae, he sent his spokesmen to Carthage to announce the 
victory and request assistance. 1 What had to be done was disputed in the 
Senate there. Hanno, an old and prudent Carthaginian citizen, counseled 
that this victory should be used wisely to make peace with the Romans, 
since they, having won, could have it with honorable conditions, and one 
should not wait to have to make one after a loss. For the intention of the 
Carthaginians should have been to show the Romans that they were able 
enough to combat them, and, having had victory over them, one should not 
seek to lose it through the hope of a greater. This policy was not taken up, 
but it was known well by the Carthaginian Senate to have been wise later 
when the opportunity was lost. 

[2] When Alexander the Great had already taken all of the East, the 
republic of Tyre (which was noble and powerful in those times through 
having their city in water like the Venetians), having seen the greatness of 
Alexander, sent him spokesmen to say to him that they wished to be his 
good servants and to give him the obedience he wished but that they were 
not ready to accept either him or his troops into the town. 2 Whereupon, 


indignant that a city wished to close to him the gates that all the world had 
opened to him, Alexander repelled them, did not accept their conditions, 
and encamped there. The town was in water and very well supplied with 
provisions and other supplies necessary for its defense—so much so that 
after four months Alexander perceived that one city was taking him more 
time to its glory than many other acquisitions had taken him, and he 
decided to try for an accord and concede them what they themselves had 
asked. But those of Tyre had been made proud and not only did not wish to 
accept the accord, but killed those who came to put it into practice. 
Indignant at this, Alexander set himself to its capture with so much force 
that he took it, demolished it, and killed and made slaves of the men. 

[3] In 1512 a Spanish army came into the Florentine dominion to put the 
Medici back in Florence and tax the city, brought by citizens from inside 
who had given them hope that once they were in the Florentine dominion 
they would take up arms in their favor. Having entered onto the plain and 
not discovering anyone, and having a lack of provisions, they tried for an 
accord, which the people of Florence, having become proud, did not accept, 
whence arose the loss of Prato and the ruin of that state. 3 

[4] Therefore princes who are assaulted cannot make a greater error, when 
the assault is made by men very much more powerful than they, than to 
refuse every accord, especially when it is offered to them. For one will never 
be offered so base that there is not inside it in some part the well-being of 
him who accepts it, and there will be a part of victory for him. For it should 
have been enough for the people of Tyre that Alexander accepted the 
conditions he had refused before, and their victory was enough when with 
arms in hand they had made such a man condescend to their wish. It should 
have been enough also for the Florentine people and have been victory 
enough for them if the Spanish army yielded to some of their wishes and 
did not fulfill all of its own. For the intention of that army was to change the 
state in Florence, to remove it from its devotion to France, and to draw 
money from it. If of three things it had two of them (which were the last 
two) and one remained to the people (which was the preservation of its 
state), each had in that some honor and some satisfaction. Nor should the 
people have cared about the two things since it remained alive; nor should it 
have wished to put that—even if it had seen a greater and almost certain 
victory—in any part at the discretion of fortune, thereby going to the last 
stake, which nobody prudent ever risks unless necessitated. When Hannibal 
departed from Italy, where for sixteen years he had been glorious, called 


back by his Carthaginians to relieve the fatherland, he found Hasdrubal and 
Syphax defeated and found the kingdom of Numidia lost and Carthage 
restricted to the limits of its walls, with no refuge remaining to it other than 
him and his army. 4 Knowing that this was the last stake of his fatherland, he 
did not wish to put it at risk before he had tried every other remedy. He was 
not ashamed to ask for peace since he judged that if his fatherland had any 
remedy it was in that and not in war. When that was denied him, he did not 
wish to fail to engage in combat, even if he should lose, since he judged that 
he was still able to win or, losing, to lose gloriously. And if Hannibal, who 
was so virtuous and had his army intact, sought peace before fighting, when 
he saw that by losing it his fatherland would become servile, what should 
another do of less virtue and of less experience than he? But men make this 
error who do not know how to put limits to their hopes, and, by founding 
themselves on these without otherwise measuring themselves, they are 



How Dangerous It Is for a Republic or a 
Prince Not to Avenge an Injury Done 
against the Public or against a Private 


[1] What indignation makes men do is easily known from what happened to 
the Romans when they sent the three Fabii as spokesmen to the French who 
had come to assault Tuscany and Chiusi in particular. 2 Since the people of 
Chiusi had sent to Rome for aid against the French, the Romans sent 
ambassadors who in the name of the Roman people were to signify to the 
French that they should abstain from making war on the Tuscans. When the 
French and the Tuscans came to fight, these spokesmen, being on the spot 
and more capable of doing than saying, put themselves among the first to 
combat against the former. From this it arose that since they were 
recognized by them, [the French] turned against the Romans all the 
indignation they had against the Tuscans. This indignation became greater 
because when the French through their ambassadors made a complaint to 
the Roman Senate about this injury, and asked that in satisfaction of that 
harm the Fabii written above should be given over to them, not only were 
they not consigned to them or punished in any other mode, but when the 
electoral meetings came they were made tribunes with consular power. So 
that when the French saw those honored who should have been punished, 
they took all to have been done for their disparagement and ignominy. 
Inflamed with indignation and anger, they came to assault Rome and took 
it, except for the Capitol. This ruin arose for the Romans only through the 
inobservance of justice, for when their ambassadors sinned “against the law 
of nations” 3 and should have been punished, they were honored. It is 
therefore to be considered how much every republic and every prince should 
take account of doing similar injuries, not only against a collectivity but 
even against an individual. For if a man is greatly offended either by the 


public or by a private person 4 and is not avenged according to his 
satisfaction, if he lives in a republic he seeks to avenge himself, even if with 
its ruin; and if he lives under a prince and has any generosity in himself he 
is never quiet until he avenges himself against him, even if he sees evil for 
himself in that. 

[2] To verify this there is no example more beautiful or more true than that 
of Philip King of Macedon, father of Alexander. He had in his court 
Pausanias, a beautiful and noble youth, with whom Attalus, one of the first 
men near Philip, was in love. Having often sought to get him to consent to 
him, and finding him averse to such things, he decided to have by deception 
and by force that which he saw he could not have by any other direction. 
Having made a festive 5 banquet to which came Pausanias and many other 
noble barons, after everyone was full of food and wine, he had Pausanias 
taken and brought bound, and not only vented his own lust by force, but also 
for greater ignominy had him reproached in a similar mode by many of the 
others. Pausanias complained of this injury often to Philip, who, after 
holding him for a time in hope that he would be avenged, not only did not 
avenge him but elevated Attalus to the government of a province of Greece. 
Whereupon Pausanias, seeing his enemy honored and not punished, turned 
all his indignation not against the one who had done him the injury but 
against Philip, who had not avenged him. On the festive 6 morning of the 
wedding of Philip’s daughter, whom he had married to Alexander of Epirus, 
when Philip was going to the temple to celebrate it in the middle of the two 
Alexanders, son-in-law and son, he killed him. 7 This example is very 
similar to that of the Romans and notable for whoever governs. For he 
should never esteem a man so little that he believes that when he adds injury 
on top of injury, he who is injured will not think of avenging himself with 
every danger and particular harm for himself. 


«29 M 

Fortune Blinds the Spirits of Men When It 
Does Not Wish Them to Oppose Its Plans 

[1] If how human affairs proceed is considered well, it will be seen that 
often things arise and accidents come about that the heavens have not 
altogether wished to be provided against. And if what I say happened at 
Rome (where there was so much virtue, so much religion, and so much 
order), it is no marvel that it should happen much more often in a city or a 
province that lacks the things said above. Because this place is very notable 
for demonstrating the power of heaven over human affairs, Titus Livy 
demonstrates it extensively and in very efficacious words, saying that since 
heaven for some end wished the Romans to know its power, it first made the 
Fabii err, whom they sent as spokesmen to the French, and by means of 
their work incited the latter to make war on Rome. Then it ordered that 
nothing worthy of the Roman people should be done in Rome to put down 
that war, having ordered before that Camillus, who alone could have been 
the sole remedy for such an evil, should be sent into exile at Ardea. 1 Then, 
when the French came toward Rome, they who had often created a dictator 
as a remedy for the thrust of the Volsci and other neighboring enemies of 
theirs did not create one when the French came. Also, in making the levy of 
soldiers, they made it weakly and without any extraordinary diligence; and 
they were so lazy in taking up arms that they were only with trouble in time 
to encounter the French above the river Allia, ten miles distant from 
Rome. 2 There the tribunes put their camp without any of the accustomed 
diligence—not looking at the place in advance, not surrounding it with a 
trench and a stockade, and not using any remedy, human or divine. And in 
ordering the battle they made the ranks 3 sparse and weak, in such a mode 
that neither the soldiers nor the captains did anything worthy of Roman 
discipline. They engaged in combat without any blood, for they fled before 
they were assaulted; the greater part of them went to Veii and the others 
withdrew to Rome. Without otherwise entering their homes, they entered 
the Capitol in such a mode that the Senate, without thinking of defending 


Rome, did not even close the gates, and part of them fled and part of them 
entered the Capitol with the others. In defending it, however, they used 
some orders without tumult. For they did not weigh it down with useless 
persons; they put there all the grain they could so that they would be able to 
endure the siege; and of the useless crowd of old men, women, and children, 
the greater part fled to the towns round about and the remainder stayed in 
Rome as prey for the French. So whoever had read of the things done by 
that people for so many years before and then read of those times could not 
believe in any mode that it was one and the same people. After speaking of 
all the disorders spoken of above, Titus Livy concludes by saying, “So much 
does Fortune blind spirits where it does not wish its gathering strength 
checked.” 4 Nor can this conclusion be more true, so that men who live 
ordinarily in great adversity or prosperity deserve less praise or less blame. 
For most often it will be seen that they have been brought to ruin or to 
greatness through a great advantage that the heavens have provided them, 
giving or taking away from them an opportunity to be able to work 

[2] Fortune does this well, since when it wishes to bring about great things 
it elects a man of so much spirit and so much virtue that he recognizes the 
opportunities that it proffers him. Thus in the same manner, when it wishes 
to bring about great ruin, it prefers men who can aid in that ruin. And if 
anyone should be there who could withstand it, either it kills him or it 
deprives him of all faculties of being able to work anything well. One knows 
very well from this text that to make Rome greater and lead it to that 
greatness it came to, fortune judged it was necessary to beat it (as we will 
discourse of at length in the beginning of the following book), 5 but still did 
not wish to ruin it altogether. For this it is seen to have had Camillus exiled 
but not killed; made Rome be taken but not the Capitol; and ordered that 
the Romans not think of any good thing to protect Rome but later not lack 
any good order to defend the Capitol. So that Rome would be taken, it 
made the greater part of the soldiers who had been defeated at the Allia go 
from there to Veii and thus cut off all ways for the defense of the city of 
Rome. In ordering this, it prepared everything for its recovery, having led an 
intact Roman army to Veii and Camillus to Ardea, so it would be possible 
to make a massive body 6 under a captain not stained with any ignominy 
from the loss and with his reputation intact for the recovery of his 


[3] We could bring up some modern example in confirmation of the things 
said, but because we do not judge it necessary since this can satisfy anyone 
whatever, we will omit it. I indeed affirm it anew to be very true, according 
to what is seen through all the histories, that men can second fortune but 
not oppose it, that they can weave its warp but not break it. They should 
indeed never give up 7 for, since they do not know its end and it proceeds by 
oblique and unknown ways, they have always to hope and, since they hope, 
not to give up in whatever fortune and in whatever travail they may find 


«30 ft 

Truly Powerful Republics and Princes Buy 
Friendships Not with Money but with 
Virtue and the Reputation of Strength 

[1] The Romans were besieged in the Capitol, and although they awaited 
relief from Veii and Camillus, since they were being expelled by starvation, 
they came to a settlement with the French to buy themselves off for a 
certain quantity of gold. 1 The gold was already being weighed on the basis 
of such a convention when Camillus came up with his army. Fortune did 
this, the historian says, “so that Romans should not live redeemed by gold.” 2 
This affair is notable not only in this aspect but throughout the course of 
this republic’s actions, in which it is seen that they never acquired lands 
with money, never made peace with money, but always with the virtue of 
arms—which I do not believe ever happened to any other republic. Among 
the other signs by which the power of a strong state is known is seeing how 
it lives with its neighbors. And if it governs itself so that to keep it friendly 
the neighbors become its tributaries, then that is a certain sign that state is 
powerful; but if said neighbors, although inferior to it, draw money from it, 
then that is a great sign of its weakness. 

[2] Let all the Roman histories be read, and you will see that the 
Massilians, 4 the Aedui, 5 the Rhodians, 6 Hiero the Syracusan, 7 and Kings 
Eumenes 8 and Massinissa, 9 who all were neighbors of the borders of the 
Roman Empire, contributed to expenses and tributes for its needs so as to 
have its friendship, not seeking any reward from it other than to be 
defended. The contrary will be seen in weak states. Beginning with ours of 
Florence, in times past, when its reputation was greater, there was no 
lordling in the Romagna who did not have a stipend from it; and 
furthermore it gave to the Perugians, the Castellans, and all its other 
neighbors. For if that city had been armed and vigorous, all would have 
gone to the contrary: to have protection from it, many would have given 
money to it, and sought not to sell it their friendship but to buy its. Nor have 


the Florentines alone lived in this cowardice, but also the Venetians, and the 
king of France, who with so great a kingdom lives as a tributary of the 
Swiss and of the king of England. All of which arises from his having 
disarmed his people and from that king and the others named before having 
wished rather to enjoy the present utility of being able to plunder their 
peoples, and to escape an imagined rather than a true danger, than to do 
things that might secure them and make their states perpetually happy. If 
this disorder brings forth some quiet, with time it is of necessity a cause of 
irremediable harms and min. It would be lengthy to tell how often the 
Florentines, the Venetians, and that kingdom have bought themselves off in 
their wars, and how often they have submitted to an ignominy to which the 
Romans only once were about to submit. It would be lengthy to tell how 
many lands the Florentines and the Venetians have bought: one saw later the 
disorder of this, and that the things they acquire with gold they do not know 
how to defend with steel. The Romans observed this generosity and this 
mode of life while they lived freely; but later, when they entered under the 
emperors, and the emperors began to be bad and to love the shade more 
than the sun, they also began to buy themselves off, now from the Parthians, 
now from the Germans, now from other peoples round about, which was the 
beginning of the ruin of so great an empire. 

[3] Similar inconveniences proceed, therefore, from having disarmed your 
people, from which results another greater one: that the nearer the enemy 
draws to you, the weaker he finds you. For he who lives in the modes said 
above treats those subjects inside his empire badly and those on the borders 
of his empire well, so as to have well-disposed men to keep the enemy 
distant. From this it arises that to keep him more distant, he gives stipends 
to the lords and peoples who are nearby his borders. Hence it arises that 
states made thus put up a little resistance on his borders, but when the 
enemy has passed them, they do not have any remedy. And they do not 
perceive that this mode of proceeding of theirs is against every good order. 
For the heart and the vital parts of a body have to be kept armed and not its 
extremities, since without the latter it lives, but if the former are hurt it 
dies; and these states keep the heart unarmed and the hands and feet armed. 

[4] What this disorder has done to Florence was seen and is seen every day: 
as soon as an army passes beyond its borders and enters near its heart, it 
does not find any more remedy. Of the Venetians the same proof was seen a 
few years ago; and if their city were not wrapped by the waters, its end 
would have been seen. This experience is not seen so often in France, 


because it is so great a kingdom that it has few enemies superior to it; 
nonetheless, when the English assaulted that kingdom in 1513, the whole 
province shook, and the king himself and everyone else judged that one 
defeat alone might have taken away from him the kingdom and the state. 10 
The contrary happened to the Romans, for the nearer the enemy drew to 
Rome, the more powerful he found that city in resisting him. In the coming 
of Hannibal into Italy, one sees that after three defeats 11 and so many 
deaths of captains and soldiers, they could not only stand up against the 
enemy but win the war. All this arose from having the heart well armed and 
taking less account of the extremities. For the foundation of its state was 
the people of Rome, the Latin name, the other partner towns in Italy, and 
their colonies, from which they drew so many soldiers that with them they 
were sufficient to combat and hold the world. That this is true is seen from 
the question Hanno the Carthaginian asked Hannibal’s spokesmen after the 
defeat of Cannae. 12 After they had magnified the things done by Hannibal, 
they were asked by Hanno whether anyone had come from the Roman 
people to ask for peace and whether any town of the Latin name or of the 
colonies had rebelled against the Romans. When they answered negatively 
as to both the one thing and the other, Hanno replied, “This war is still as 
intact as before.” 13 

[5] One sees, therefore, both from this discourse and from what we have 
often said elsewhere, how much difference there is between the mode of 
proceeding of the present republics and that of the ancient ones. Because of 
this, one also sees miraculous losses and miraculous acquisitions every day. 
For where men have little virtue, fortune shows its power very much; and 
because it is variable, republics and states often vary and will always vary 
until someone emerges who is so much a lover of antiquity that he regulates 
it in such a mode that it does not have cause to show at every turning of the 
sun how much it can do. 


«31 ft 

How Dangerous It Is to Believe the 


[1] It does not seem to me outside the purpose to reason, among these other 
discourses, about how dangerous it is to believe those who have been 
expelled from their fatherland, these being things that have to be put into 
practice every day by those who hold states, especially since this can be 
demonstrated by a memorable example brought up by Titus Livy in his 
histories, although outside his purpose. 1 When Alexander the Great passed 
with his army into Asia, Alexander of Epirus, his brother-in-law and uncle, 
came with troops into Italy, called by the banished Lucanians, who gave 
him hope that by means of them he could seize all of that province. Hence, 
having come into Italy under their faith and hope, he was killed by them, 
since they had been promised a return to their fatherland by their fellow 
citizens if they killed him. It should therefore be considered how vain are 
both the faith and the promises of those who find themselves deprived of 
their fatherland. For as to faith, it has to be reckoned that whenever they can 
reenter their fatherland by means other than yours, they will leave you and 
draw close to others, notwithstanding whatever promises they have made 
you. And as to vain promises and hopes, their wish to return home is so 
extreme that they naturally believe many things that are false, and from art 
add many more to them. So that between what they believe and what they 
say they believe, they fill you with such hope that by founding yourself on it, 
either you make an expense in vain or you undertake an enterprise in which 
you are ruined. 

[2] I wish the aforesaid Alexander and furthermore Themistocles the 
Athenian to be enough for me as examples. The latter, when he was made a 
rebel, fled to Darius in Asia, where he promised him so much if he would 
assault Greece that Darius turned to the enterprise. When Themistocles 
then could not observe those promises to him, either from shame or from 
fear of torture, he poisoned himself. And if this error was made by 
Themistocles, a very excellent man, it should be reckoned how much those 


err in this who from less virtue let themselves be pulled more by their wish 
and their passion. 2 A prince should thus go slowly in taking up enterprises 
on the report of someone banished, 3 since most often he is left either with 
shame or with very grave harm. And because taking towns furtively and 
through intelligence from others in them rarely succeeds, it does not seem 
to me outside the purpose to discourse of that in the following chapter, 
adding to that by how many modes the Romans acquired them. 



«32 M 

In How Many Modes the Romans Seized 


[1] Since all the Romans turned to war, they always made it with every 
advantage, both as to expense and as to every other thing sought in it. From 
this it arose that they guarded themselves from taking towns by siege, for 
they judged the expense and inconvenience of this mode to be so great as to 
overcome by far the utility that could be drawn from what it acquired. 
Because of this they thought it would be better and more useful to subjugate 
towns by every other mode than by besieging them—hence, in so many wars 
and in so many years, there are very few examples of sieges made by them. 
The modes, then, by which they acquired cities were either by storm or by 
surrender. Storming was either by force and open violence or by force 
mixed with fraud. Open violence was either by assault without knocking 
down the walls (which they called “attacking the city with a crown,” 1 for 
they surrounded the city with the whole army and engaged in combat from 
all sides, and they very often succeeded in taking even a very big city in one 
assault, as when Scipio took New Carthage in Spain); 2 or, if this assault was 
not enough, they addressed themselves to breaking the walls with rams and 
with other of their war machines; or they made a mine and entered the city 
through it (by which mode they took the city of the Veientes); 3 or, to be 
equal to those who defended the walls, they made towers of wood or made 
barricades of earth leaning on the walls from outside so as to reach their 
height on those. Against these assaults, whoever defended in the first case, 
that of being assaulted all around, bore more immediate danger and had 
more doubtful remedies. For he needed to have very many defenders in 
every place, and either those that he had were not so many that they could 
either cope everywhere or reinforce one another, or, if they could, they were 
not all of equal spirit to resist, and through one part that yielded in the 
fighting they all lost. Therefore it often occurred, as I have said, that this 
mode had a happy outcome. But when it did not succeed at first, they did 
not retain it much because it was a dangerous mode for the army. For it 


extended itself over so much space that it was left too weak everywhere to 
be able to resist a sortie that those inside might make, and also the soldiers 
disordered and tired themselves; but once and unexpectedly they would try 
such a mode. As to breaking the walls, it was opposed, as in the present 
times, with embankments. To resist mines they made a countermine, and 
through it opposed the enemy either with arms or with other devices, 
among which were filling barrels with feathers that they set fire to and, once 
inflamed, put in the mine, which with smoke and stench impeded the 
enemy’s entry. And if they assaulted them with towers, they devised how to 
ruin them with fire. And as to embankments of earth, they broke the wall at 
the lower part where the embankment leaned and drew inside the earth that 
those outside piled up there; so that with the earth being put there from 
outside and removed from inside, the embankment did not grow. These 
modes of storming cannot be tried at length, but one needs either to leave 
the field or seek to win the war by other modes (as Scipio did when, having 
entered into Africa and having assaulted Utica and not succeeded in taking 
it, he left the field and sought to break the Carthaginian armies), 4 or truly to 
turn to the siege (as they did at Veii, Capua, Carthage, Jerusalem, and 
similar towns they seized by siege). As to acquiring towns by furtive 
violence, it occurs as happened at Palaepolis, which the Romans seized 
through a treaty with those inside. 5 Many stormings of this sort have been 
tried by the Romans and by others, and few have succeeded. The reason is 
that every least impediment breaks the plan, and impediments come about 
easily. For either 6 the conspiracy is uncovered before one gets to the act— 
and it is uncovered without much difficulty, partly because of the 
faithlessness of those to whom it is communicated and partly because of the 
difficulty of putting it into practice, since one has to meet with enemies and 
with those with whom you are not permitted to speak unless under some 
color. But if the conspiracy is not uncovered in managing it, a thousand 
difficulties emerge later in the act. For if you come before the planned time 
or if you come afterward, everything is spoiled; if a fortuitous noise is 
raised, as by the geese of the Capitol, if an accustomed order is broken— 
every least error, every least mistake that is made ruins the enterprise. 
Added to this is the darkness of the night, which puts more fear in whoever 
labors in those dangerous things. And since the greater part of the men who 
are led to similar enterprises are inexpert in the site of the country and the 
places where they are brought, they become confused, cowardly, and 
embroiled from every least and fortuitous accident, and every false 


imagination is able to make them turn about. Nor was anyone ever found 
who was more happy in these fraudulent and nocturnal expeditions than 
Aratus of Sicyon, 7 who was as worthy in these as he was pusillanimous in 
daylight and open struggle. This can be judged to have been rather from a 
hidden virtue in him than because there should naturally have been more 
happiness in these. Thus of these modes very many are put into practice, 
few are brought to the proof, and very few succeed. 

[2] As to acquiring towns by surrender, they give themselves either willingly 
or forcibly. The will arises either from some extrinsic necessity that 
constrains them to take refuge with you, as Capua did with the Romans, or 
from desire to be well governed, when they are attracted by the good 
government that prince holds over those who willingly consign themselves 
into his lap, as did the Rhodians, the Massilians, and other similar cities 
who gave themselves to the Roman people. As to forced surrender, either 
such force arises from a long siege, as was said above, or it arises from a 
continual crushing by raids, depredations, and other ill treatment, wishing 
to escape from which a city surrenders. Of all the said modes, the Romans 
used the last more than any; for more than four hundred fifty years they paid 
attention to tiring out their neighbors with defeats and raids and to gaining 
reputation over them by means of accords, as we have discoursed of 
elsewhere. 8 On such a mode they always founded themselves, although they 
tried them all, but in the others they found things that were either dangerous 
or useless. For in a siege, there are length and expense; in storming, doubt 
and danger; in conspiracies, uncertainty. They saw that with a defeat of an 
enemy army they acquired a kingdom in a day, and in taking an obstinate 
city by siege they consumed many years. 


*$33 ft 

How the Romans Gave Free Commissions 
to Their Captains of Armies 

[1] I reckon that when reading this Livian history and wishing to profit from 
it, all the modes of proceeding of the Roman people and Senate should be 
considered. Among the other things that deserve consideration is seeing 
with what authority they sent their consuls, dictators, and other captains of 
armies outside. Their authority is seen to have been very great and the 
Senate not to have reserved any authority to itself other than that of starting 
new wars and of ratifying peace, and it consigned all other things to the 
judgment and power of the consul. For once the people and the Senate had 
decided upon a war—for instance, against the Latins—they consigned all 
the rest to the judgment of the consul, who could either wage a battle or not 
wage it, encamp at this town or that other one, as he liked. 1 These things are 
verified by many examples, especially by what occurred in an expedition 
against the Tuscans. 2 For when Fabius the consul had defeated them near 
Sutri and then planned to pass with his army through the Ciminian forest 
and go into Tuscany, not only did he not take counsel with the Senate, but 
he did not give them any knowledge of it, although the war would have to 
be waged in a new, doubtful, and dangerous country. This is testified to also 
by the decisions made by the Senate about that. It had heard of the victory 
Fabius had had and feared he would take up the policy of passing through 
the said forest into Tuscany. Judging that it would be good not to attempt 
that war and run into that danger, it sent two legates to Fabius to make him 
understand he was not to pass into Tuscany. They arrived when he had 
already passed through there and had had the victory, and instead of being 
impeders of the war they turned into ambassadors of the acquisition and the 
glory that was gained. Whoever will consider this limit well will see it was 
used very prudently. For if the Senate had wished that a consul should 
proceed into war little by little 3 according to his commission, it would have 
made him less circumspect and more slow, for it would not have seemed to 
him that the victory would have been all his but that the Senate, by whose 


counsel he was governed, would share in it. Besides this, the Senate would 
have been obliged to wish to give counsel about a thing that it could not 
understand, for notwithstanding that in it were men all very much trained in 
war, nonetheless, since it was not on the spot and did not know infinite 
particulars that are necessary to know for whoever wishes to give counsel 
well, it would have made infinite errors in giving counsel. Because of this 
they wished that the consul should act by himself and that the glory should 
be all his—the love of which, they judged, would be a check and a rule to 
make him work well. This part is more willingly noted by me since I see 
that the republics of the present times, such as the Venetian and the 
Florentine, understand it otherwise, and if their captains, superintendents, 
or commissioners have to set up one artillery piece, they wish to understand 
and give counsel about it. This mode deserves the praise that the others 
deserve, all of which together have led them to the limits where they at 
present find themselves. 


Third Book 

If One Wishes a Sect or a Republic to Live 
Long, It Is Necessary to Draw It Back 
Often toward Its Beginning 

[1] It is a very true thing that all worldly things have a limit to their life; but 
generally those go the whole course that is ordered for them by heaven, that 
do not disorder their body but keep it ordered so that either it does not alter 
or, if it alters, it is for its safety and not to its harm. Because I am speaking 
of mixed bodies, such as republics and sects, I say that those alterations are 
for safety that lead them back toward their beginnings. So those are better 
ordered and have longer life that by means of their orders can often be 
renewed or indeed that through some accident outside the said order come 
to the said renewal. And it is a thing clearer than light that these bodies do 
not last if they do not renew themselves. 

[2] The mode of renewing them is, as was said, to lead them back toward 
their beginnings. For all the beginnings of sects, republics, and kingdoms 
must have some goodness in them, by means of which they may regain their 
first reputation and their first increase. Because in the process of time that 
goodness is corrupted, unless something intervenes to lead it back to the 
mark, it of necessity kills that body. Speaking of the bodies of men, these 
doctors of medicine say “that daily something is added that at some time 
needs cure.” 1 Speaking of republics, this return toward the beginning is 
done through either extrinsic accident or intrinsic prudence. As to the first, 
one sees that it was necessary that Rome be taken by the French, if one 
wished that it be reborn and, by being reborn, regain new fife and new 
virtue, and regain the observance of religion and justice, which were 
beginning to be tainted in it. This is very well understood through Livy’s 
history, where he shows that in taking out the army against the French, and 
in creating the tribunes with consular power, they did not observe any 
religious ceremony. 2 So, likewise, not only did they not punish the three 
Fabii who “against the law of nations” 3 had engaged in combat against the 


French, but they created them tribunes. 4 It ought to be easily presupposed 
that they were beginning to take less account of other good institutions 
ordered by Romulus and by the other prudent princes than was reasonable 
and necessary to maintain their free way of life. Thus came this external 5 
beating, so that all the orders of the city might be regained and that it might 
be shown to that people that it was necessary not only to maintain religion 
and justice but also to esteem its good citizens and to take more account of 
their virtue than of those advantages that it appeared to them they lacked 
through their works. This, one sees, succeeded exactly; for as soon as Rome 
was retaken, they renewed all the orders of their ancient religion, they 
punished the Fabii who had engaged in combat “against the law of 
nations,” 6 and next they so much esteemed the virtue and goodness of 
Camillus that they put aside all envy—the Senate and the others—and they 
again placed all the weight of that republic on him. 7 It is thus necessary, as 
was said, that men who live together in any order whatever often examine 
themselves either through these extrinsic accidents or through intrinsic 
ones. As to the latter, it must arise either from a law that often looks over 
the account for the men who are in that body or indeed from a good man 
who arises among them, who with his examples and his virtuous works 
produces the same effect as the order. 

[3] Thus this good emerges in republics either through the virtue of a man 
or through the virtue of an order. As to this last, the orders that drew the 
Roman republic back toward its beginning were the tribunes of the plebs, 
the censors, and all the other laws that went against the ambition and the 
insolence of men. Such orders have need of being brought to life by the 
virtue of a citizen who rushes spiritedly to execute them against the power 
of those who transgress them. Notable among such executions, before the 
taking of Rome by the French, 8 were the death of the sons of Brutus, 9 the 
death of the ten citizens, 10 and that of Maelius the grain dealer; 11 after the 
taking of Rome it was the death of Manlius Capitolinus, 12 the death of the 
son of Manlius Torquatus, 13 the execution of Papirius Cursor against his 
master of the cavalrymen Fabius, 14 and the accusation of the Scipios. 15 
Because they were excessive and notable, such things made men draw back 
toward the mark whenever one of them arose; and when they began to be 
more rare, they also began to give more space to men to corrupt themselves 
and to behave with greater danger and more tumult. For one should not 
wish ten years at most to pass from one to another of such executions; for 


when this time is past, men begin to vary in their customs and to transgress 
the laws. Unless something arises by which punishment is brought back to 
their memory and fear is renewed in their spirits, soon so many delinquents 
join together that they can no longer be punished without danger. Those 
who governed the state of Florence from 1434 up to 1494 used to say, to 
this purpose, that it was necessary to regain the state every five years; 
otherwise, it was difficult to maintain it. 16 They called regaining the state 
putting that terror and that fear in men that had been put there in taking it, 
since at that time they had beaten down those who, according to that mode 
of life, had worked for ill. But as the memory of that beating is eliminated, 
men began to dare to try new things and to say evil; and so it is necessary to 
provide for it, drawing [the state] back toward its beginnings. This drawing 
back of republics toward their beginning arises also from the simple virtue 
of one man, without depending on any law that stimulates you to any 
execution; nonetheless, they are of such reputation and so much example 
that good men desire to imitate them and the wicked are ashamed to hold 
to a life contrary to them. In Rome those who particularly produced these 
good effects were Horatius Coclus, 17 Scaevola, 18 Fabricius, 19 the two 
Decii, 20 Regulus Attilius, 21 and some others who with their rare and 
virtuous examples produced in Rome almost the same effect that laws and 
orders produced. If the executions written above, together with these 
particular examples, had continued at least every ten years in that city, it 
follows of necessity that it would never have been corrupt; but as both of 
these two things began to diminish, corruptions began to multiply. For after 
Marcus Regulus no like example may be seen there, and although the two 
Catos emerged in Rome, there was so much distance from him to them and 
between them from one to the other, and they remained so alone, that with 
their good examples they were not able to do any good work—and 
especially the last Cato, who, finding the city in good part corrupt, was not 
able to make the citizens become better with his example. 22 Let this be 
enough as to republics. 

[4] But as to sects, these renewals are also seen to be necessary by the 
example of our religion, which would be altogether eliminated if it had not 
been drawn back toward its beginning by Saint Francis and Saint Dominick. 
For with poverty and with the example of the fife of Christ they brought 
back into the minds of men what had already been eliminated there. Their 
new orders were so powerful that they are the cause that the dishonesty of 
the prelates and of the heads of the religion do not ruin it. Living still in 


poverty and having so much credit with peoples in confessions and sermons, 
they give them to understand that it is evil to say evil of evil, and that it is 
good to live under obedience to them and, if they make an error, to leave 
them for God to punish. So they do the worst they can because they do not 
fear the punishment that they do not see and do not believe. This renewal, 
therefore, has maintained and maintains this religion. 23 

[5] Kingdoms also have need of renewing themselves and of bringing back 
their laws toward their beginnings. How much good effect this part 
produces is seen in the kingdom of France, which lives under laws and 
under orders more than any other kingdom. Parlements are those who 
maintain these laws and orders, especially that of Paris. 24 They are renewed 
by it whenever it makes an execution against a prince of that kingdom and 
when it condemns the king in its verdicts. Up until now it has maintained 
itself by having been an obstinate executor against the nobility; but 
whenever it should leave any of them unpunished and they should come to 
multiply, without doubt it would arise either that they would have to be 
corrected with great disorder or that that kingdom would be dissolved. 

[6] One therefore concludes that nothing is more necessary in a common 
way of life, whether it is sect or kingdom or republic, than to give back to it 
the reputation it had in its beginnings, and to contrive that it be either good 
orders or good men that produce this effect, and not have an extrinsic force 
to produce it. For although sometimes it is the best remedy, as it was in 
Rome, it is so dangerous that it is not in any way to be desired. To 
demonstrate to anyone how much the actions of particular men made Rome 
great and caused many good effects in that city, I shall come to the 
narration and discourse of them; within these limits this third book and last 
part of this first decade will conclude. Although the actions of the kings 
were great and notable, nonetheless since the history states them 
thoroughly, I shall omit them; nor shall I speak of them otherwise except for 
anything they may have worked pertaining to their private advantage; and I 
shall begin with Brutus, father of Roman liberty. 23 



That It Is a Very Wise Thing to Simulate 
Craziness at the Right Time 1 

[1] There was never anyone so prudent nor esteemed so wise for any 
eminent work of his than Junius Brutus deserves to be held in his 
simulation of stupidity. Although Titus Livy expresses but one cause that 
induced him to such simulation, which was to be able to live more securely 
and to maintain his patrimony, nonetheless when his mode of proceeding is 
considered, it can be believed that he also simulated this to be less observed 
and to have more occasion for crushing the kings and freeing his own 
fatherland whenever opportunity would be given him. That he thought of 
this may be seen, first, in the interpreting of the oracle of Apollo, when he 
simulated falling so as to kiss the earth, judging that through this he would 
have the gods favorable to his thoughts, 2 and afterward, when over the dead 
Lucretia he was the first among her father and husband and other relatives 
to draw the knife from the wound and to make the bystanders swear that 
they would never endure that in the future anyone should reign in Rome. 3 
From his example all those who are discontented with a prince have to 
learn: they should first measure and first weigh their forces, and if they are 
so powerful that they can expose themselves as his enemies and make war 
on him openly, they should enter on this way, as less dangerous and more 
honorable. But if they are of such quality that their forces are not enough 
for making open war, they should seek with all industry to make themselves 
friends to him; and to this effect, they should enter on all those ways that 
they judge to be necessary, following his pleasures and taking delight in all 
those things they see him delighting in. This familiarity, first, makes you live 
secure, and without carrying any danger it makes you enjoy the good 
fortune of that prince together with him and affords you every occasion for 
satisfying your intent. It is true that some say that with princes one should 
not wish to stand so close that their ruin includes you, nor so far that you 
would not be in time to rise above their ruin when they are being ruined. 
Such a middle way would be the truest if it could be observed, but because I 


believe that it is impossible, one must be reduced to the two modes written 
above—that is, either to distance oneself from or to bind oneself to them. 
Whoever does otherwise, if he is a man notable for his quality, lives in 
continual danger. Nor is it enough to say: “I do not care for anything; I do 
not desire either honors or useful things; I wish to live quietly and without 
quarrel!” For these excuses are heard and not accepted; nor can men who 
have quality choose to abstain even when they choose it truly and without 
any ambition, because it is not believed of them; so if they wish to abstain, 
they are not allowed by others to abstain. Thus one must play crazy, like 
Brutus, and make oneself very much mad, praising, speaking, seeing, doing 
things against your intent so as to please the prince. Since we have spoken 
of the prudence of this man in recovering freedom in Rome, we shall now 
speak of his severity in maintaining it. 


«3 M 

That It Is Necessary to Kill the Sons of 
Brutus If One Wishes to Maintain a Newly 

Acquired Freedom 

[1] Not less necessary than useful was the severity of Brutus in maintaining 
in Rome the freedom that he had acquired there. It is an example rare in all 
memories of things to see the father sit on the tribunals and not only 
condemn his sons to death but be present at their death. This will always be 
known by those who read of ancient things: that after a change of state, 
either from republic to tyranny or from tyranny to republic, a memorable 
execution against the enemies of present conditions is necessary. Whoever 
takes up a tyranny and does not kill Brutus, and whoever makes a free state 
and does not kill the sons of Brutus, maintains himself for little time. 1 And 
because this topic is largely discoursed of above, 2 I refer to what was said 
then; I will bring up only one example here that has been memorable in our 
days and in our fatherland. This is Piero Soderini, who believed he would 
overcome with his patience and goodness the appetite that was in the sons 
of Brutus for returning to another government, and who deceived himself. 
Although because of his prudence he recognized this necessity, and though 
fate and the ambition of those who struck him gave him opportunity to 
eliminate them, nonetheless he never turned his mind to doing it. For 
besides believing that he could extinguish ill humors with patience and 
goodness and wear away some of the enmity to himself with rewards to 
someone, he judged (and often vouched for it with his friends) that if he 
wished to strike his opponents vigorously and to beat down his adversaries, 
he would have needed to take up extraordinary authority and break up civil 
equality together with the laws. Even though afterward it would not be used 
tyrannically by him, this thing would have so terrified the collectivity that it 
would never after join together, after his death, to remake a gonfalonier for 
life—which order, he judged, it would be good to increase and maintain. 3 
Such respect was wise and good; nonetheless he should never allow an evil 


to run loose out of respect for a good, when that good could easily be 
crushed by that evil. Since his works and his intention had to be judged by 
the end, he should have believed that if fortune and life had stayed with 
him, everyone could certify that what he had done was for the safety of the 
fatherland and not for his own ambition; and he could regulate things so that 
a successor of his would not be able to do for evil what he had done for 
good. But his first opinion deceived him, as he did not know that malignity 
is not tamed by time or appeased by any gift. So much so that, through not 
knowing how to be like Brutus, he lost not only his fatherland but his state 
and his reputation. And as it is a difficult thing to save a free state, so it is 
difficult to save a royal one, as will be shown in the following chapter. 

A Prince Does Not Live Secure in a 
Principality While Those Who Have Been 
Despoiled of It Are Living 

[1] The death of Tarquin Priscus, caused by the sons of Ancus, and the 
death of Servius Tullius, caused by Tarquin the Proud, show how difficult 
and dangerous it is to despoil one individual of the kingdom and to leave 
him alive, even though one might seek to win him over by compensation. 1 
And one sees that Tarquin Priscus was deceived because it appeared to him 
that he possessed the kingdom lawfully, since it had been given to him by 
the people and confirmed by the Senate. Nor did he believe that there could 
be so much indignation in the sons of Ancus that they would not have to be 
content with what contented all Rome. Servius Tullius deceived himself in 
believing he could win over the sons of Tarquin with new compensations. 2 
So, as to the first, every prince can be warned that he never lives secure in 
his principality as long as those who have been despoiled of it are living. As 
to the second, every power can be reminded that old injuries are never 
suppressed by new benefits, and so much the less as the new benefit is less 
than the injury was. 3 Without doubt, Servius Tullius was hardly prudent to 
believe that the sons of Tarquin would be patient to be the sons-in-law of 
him over whom they judged they ought to be king. This appetite for reigning 
is so great that it enters the breasts of not only those who expect the 
kingdom but also those who do not expect it, as it was in the wife of young 
Tarquin, the daughter of Servius. Moved by this rage, against all paternal 
piety, she moved her husband against her father to take away from him his 
life and the kingdom—so much more did she esteem it to be queen than 
daughter of a king. Thus, if Tarquin Priscus and Servius Tullius lost the 
kingdom through not knowing how to secure themselves against those from 
whom they had usurped it, 4 Tarquin the Proud lost it through not observing 
the orders of the ancient kings, as will be shown in the following chapter. 



«5 M 

What Makes a King Who Is Heir to a 
Kingdom Lose It 

[1] When Tarquin the Proud had killed Servius Tullius, and there were no 
heirs remaining of him, he came to possess the kingdom securely, since he 
did not have to fear those things that had offended his predecessors. 
Although the mode of seizing the kingdom had been extraordinary and 
hateful, nonetheless, if he had observed the ancient orders of the other 
kings, he would have been endured and would not have excited the Senate 
and plebs against him so as to take the state away from him. Thus he was 
expelled not because his son Sextus had raped Lucretia 1 but because he had 
broken the laws of the kingdom and governed it tyrannically, as he had 
taken away all authority from the Senate and adapted it for himself. That 
business that was done in public places to the satisfaction of the Roman 
Senate he brought to do in his palace, with disapproval and envy for him; so 
in a brief time he despoiled Rome of all the freedom it had maintained 
under the other kings. Nor was it enough for him to make the Fathers 
enemies of himself, for he also excited the plebs against himself, tiring it 
out in mechanical things all alien to what his predecessors had put them to 
work in. 2 So, having filled Rome with cruel and proud examples, he had 
already disposed the spirits of all Romans to rebellion whenever they would 
have opportunity for it. If the accident of Lucretia had not come, as soon as 
another had arisen it would have brought the same effect. For if Tarquin 
had lived like the other kings and Sextus his son had made that error, Brutus 
and Collatinus would have had recourse to Tarquin and not to the Roman 
people for vengeance against Sextus. 3 Thus princes may know that they 
begin to lose their state at the hour they begin to break the laws and those 
modes and those customs that are ancient, under which men have lived a 
long time. And if when deprived of the state they ever become so prudent 
that they recognize with how much ease principalities may be held by those 
who take counsel wisely, they would grieve much more for their loss and 
condemn themselves to a greater penalty than they would have been 


condemned to by others. For it is much easier to be loved by the good than 
by the wicked, and to obey the laws than to wish to command them. If they 
wish to understand the mode they have to keep to do this, they do not have 
to go to more trouble than to take for their mirror the lives of good princes, 
such as would be Timoleon of Corinth, 4 Aratus of Sicyon, 5 and the like. In 
their lives he will find so much security and so much satisfaction for 
whoever rules and whoever is ruled that the wish to imitate them ought to 
come to him, since, for the reasons given, he can easily do it. For when men 
are governed well they do not seek or wish for any other freedom, as 
happened to the peoples governed by the two named before, whom they 
constrained to be princes while they lived even though they often attempted 
to return to private life. And because in this and the two preceding chapters 
humors excited against princes and the conspiracies made by the sons of 
Brutus against the fatherland and those made against Tarquin Priscus and 
Servius Tullius have been reasoned about, it does not appear to me a thing 
outside the purpose to speak of them thoroughly in the following chapter, 
since there is matter worthy of being noted by princes and private 
individuals. 6 


&6 n 

Of Conspiracies 

[1] It did not appear to me that reasoning about conspiracies should be omitted, since it is a thing so dangerous to 
princes and private individuals; for many more princes are seen to have lost their lives and states through these than 
by open war. For to be able to make open war on a prince is granted to few; to be able to conspire against them is 
granted to everyone. On the other side, private men enter upon no enterprise more dangerous or more bold than 
this, for it is difficult and very dangerous in every part of it. Hence it arises that many of them are attempted, and 
very few have the desired end. Thus, so that princes may learn to guard themselves from these dangers and private 
individuals may put themselves into them more timidly—indeed, that they may learn to be content to live under 
the empire that has been proposed for them by fate—I shall speak of them thoroughly, not omitting any notable 
case in the evidence of both. And truly, the verdict of Cornelius Tacitus is golden, which says that men have to 
honor past things and obey present ones; and they should desire good princes and tolerate them, however they may 
be made. 1 And truly, whoever does otherwise most often ruins himself and his fatherland. 

[2] Thus, entering into the matter, we should consider first against whom conspiracies are made; and we shall find 
them to be made either against the fatherland or against a prince, of which two I wish to reason at present. For 
those that are made to give a town to enemies that besiege it or that have, for any cause, a similarity with this, have 
been sufficiently spoken of above. 2 We shall treat, in this first part, of those against the prince, and first we shall 
examine the causes of these, which are many. But one of them is very important, more than all the others; and this 
is being hated by the collectivity. For it is reasonable that the prince who has excited this universal hatred against 
himself has particular individuals who have been more offended by him and who desire to avenge themselves. This 
desire of theirs is increased by that universal bad disposition that they see to be excited against him. A prince, thus, 
should flee these private charges, 3 and what he has to do to flee them I do not wish to speak of here, since it has 
been treated elsewhere; 4 for if he guards himself from this, simple particular offenses will make less trouble 5 for 
him. First, because one rarely meets men who reckon an injury so much that they put themselves in so much 
danger to avenge it; the other, because if they were even of the spirit and had the power to do it, they are held back 
by the universal benevolence that they see a prince has. It must be that the injuries are in property, in blood, or in 
honor. Of those having to do with blood, menaces are more dangerous than executions; 6 indeed, menaces are very 
dangerous, and in executions there is no danger. For whoever is dead cannot think of vengeance; those who remain 
alive most often leave the thought of it to you. 7 But he who is menaced and who sees himself constrained by a 
necessity either to act or to suffer becomes a man very dangerous for the prince, as we shall tell particularly in its 
place. Outside this necessity, property and honor are the two things that offend men more than any other offense, 
from which the prince should guard himself. For he can never despoil one individual so much that a knife to 
avenge himself does not remain for him, and he can never dishonor one individual so much that a spirit obstinate 
for vengeance is not left to him. Of honors taken away from men, that concerning women is most important; after 
this, contempt of one’s person. This armed Pausanias against Philip of Macedon; 8 this has armed many others 
against many other princes. In our times Giulio Belanti would not have been moved to conspire against Pandolfo, 
tyrant of Siena, if not because he had been given by him and then had taken away a daughter of his for a wife, as 
we shall tell in its place. 0 The greatest cause that made the Pazzi conspire against the Medici was the inheritance 
of Giovanni Bonromei, which was taken away from them by the latter’s order. 10 Another cause of it—and a very 
great one—that makes men conspire against the prince is the desire to free the fatherland that has been seized by 
him. This cause moved Brutus and Cassius against Caesar; 11 this has moved many others against the Phalarises, 12 
Dionysiuses, 1 ’ and other seizers of their fatherland. Nor can any tyrant guard himself from this humor except by 
laying down the tyranny. And because no one is found who does this, few are found who do not come out badly. 
Hence arises that verse of Juvenal: 

To the son-in-law of Ceres few kings descend without killing and wounds, and few tyrants with a dry death. 14 

The dangers that are borne in conspiracies, as I said above, are great, since they are borne at all times; for in such 
cases danger is encountered in managing them, in executing them, and after they are executed. Those who conspire 
are either one individual or they are more. With one individual, it cannot be said that it is a conspiracy, but a firm 
disposition arisen in one man to kill the prince. This alone lacks the first of the three dangers incurred in 
conspiracies; for before the execution no danger is borne, since no other has his secret, nor does he bear the danger 


that his plan will come back to the ear of the prince. This decision so made can fall to any man of whatever sort: 
great, small, noble, ignoble, familiar or not familiar to the prince; for it is permitted to everyone to speak to him 
some time, and to whomever it is permitted to speak it is permitted to vent his spirit. Pausanias, who has been 
spoken of other times, 15 killed Philip of Macedon, who was going to the temple between his son and his son-in- 
law with a thousand armed men around. But he was noble and known to the prince. A Spaniard, poor and abject, 
gave a stab in the neck to King Ferdinand, king of Spain; it was not a mortal wound, but one may see from this 
that he had spirit and occasion to do it. 16 A dervish, a Turkish priest, drew a scimitar on Bajazet, father of the 
present Turk; he did not wound him, but he had indeed the spirit and occasion to wish to do it. 17 Of spirits so 
made very many are found, I believe, who would wish to do it because in wishing there is neither penalty nor any 
danger; but few who do it. But of those who do it, there are very few or none who are not killed in the deed; so no 
one is found who wishes to go to a certain death. But let us drop these individual wishes and come to conspiracies 
among more. 

[3] I say it is to be found in the histories that all conspiracies are made by great men or those very familiar to the 
prince. 18 For others, if they are not quite mad, are unable to conspire, since weak men and those not familiar to 
the prince lack all those hopes and all those occasions that are required for the execution of a conspiracy. First, 
weak men are unable to find a match in whoever might keep faith with them. For one individual cannot consent to 
their will under any of those hopes that make men enter into great dangers, so that as they are enlarged to two or 
three persons, they find an accuser and are ruined. But even if they have been so happy as to lack this accuser, in 
the execution they are surrounded by such difficulties, for not having easy entry to the prince, that it is impossible 
for them not to be ruined in its execution. For if great men, who have easy entry, are crushed by those difficulties 
that will be told of below, it must be that in these the difficulties increase without end. Therefore men (since where 
life and property enter into it, they are not altogether insane), when they see themselves weak, guard themselves 
about doing it; and when they are fed up with a prince, they attend to cursing him and wait for those who have 
greater quality than they to avenge them. And even if it should be found that anyone such as these had attempted 
something, the intention and not the prudence should be praised in them. One sees, therefore, that those who have 
conspired have all been great men, or familiars of the prince. Many of them have conspired, moved as much by too 
many benefits as by too many injuries, as was Perennius against Commodus, 19 Plautianus against Sever us, 70 
Sejanus against Tiberius. 21 All these were placed by their emperors in so much wealth, honor, and rank that it did 
not appear they lacked anything for the perfection of their power but the empire; and since they did not wish to be 
lacking this, they were moved to conspire against the prince. All their conspiracies had the end that their 
ingratitude deserved, although of similar ones in fresher times, that of Jacopo d’Appiano against Messer Piero 
Gambacorti, prince of Pisa, had a good end. Jacopo, though raised and nourished and given reputation by him, 
then took away the state from him. 22 In our times, that of Coppola against King Ferdinand of Aragon was among 
these. Flaving come to so much greatness that it did not appear to him that he lacked anything except the kingdom, 
Coppola lost his life because he wished also for that. 23 And truly, if any conspiracy against princes made by great 
men ought to have had a good end, it ought to be this, since it was made by another king, so to speak, and by one 
who has so much occasion to fulfill his desire; but the greed for dominating that blinds him also blinds him in 
managing the enterprise. For if they knew how to do this wickedness with prudence it would be impossible that 
they not succeed. Thus, a prince who wishes to guard himself against conspiracies should fear more those to whom 
he has done too many favors 24 than those to whom he has done too many injuries. 25 For the latter are lacking in 
occasion, the former abound in it; and the wish is similar because the desire to dominate is as great as or greater 
than is that of vengeance. They should therefore give so much authority to their friends as there may be some 
interval between it and the principate, and that in the middle there may be something to desire; otherwise it will 
be a rare thing if it does not happen to them as to the princes written about above. But let us return to our order. 

[4] I say that since those who conspire have to be great men and have easy access to the prince, one has to 
discourse of the results of their enterprises, such as they have been, to see the cause that made them be happy or 
unhappy. As I said above, dangers are found within them at three times: before, in the deed, and after. Few are 
found that have a good outcome because it is impossible—almost—to pass through them all happily. And 
beginning to discourse of the dangers before, which are the most important, I say that one needs to be very prudent 
and to have great luck in managing a conspiracy for it not to be exposed. They are exposed either by report or by 
conjecture. Report arises from finding lack of faith, or lack of prudence, in the men to whom you communicate it. 
Lack of faith is easily found because you cannot communicate it except to your trusted ones, who for your love will 
put themselves in the way of death, or to men who are discontented with the prince. Of the trusted one might be 
able to find one or two; but as you extend yourself to many, it is impossible for you to find them. Next, the 
benevolence that they bear for you indeed needs to be great if the danger and the fear of punishment are not to 
appear greater to them. Next, men most often deceive themselves about the love that you judge a man bears to you, 


nor can you ever secure yourself of it unless you make experiment of it; and to make experiment of it in this is 
very dangerous. Even if you have made experiment of it in some other dangerous thing in which they have been 
faithful to you, you cannot from that faith measure this one, since this surpasses every other kind of danger by very 
far. If you measure faith by the discontent that one individual has with the prince, you can easily deceive yourself 
in this; for as soon as you have manifested your intent to that discontented one, you give him matter with which to 
content himself, and to maintain him in faith it must indeed be either that the hatred is great or that your authority 
is very great. 

[5] From here it arises that very many [conspiracies] are revealed and crushed in their first beginnings, and that 
when one has been secret among many men a long time, it is held a miraculous thing, as was that of Piso against 
Nero 26 and, in our times, that of the Pazzi against Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici. 27 More than fifty men were 
aware of these, and they were led into execution before being exposed. As to being exposed by lack of prudence, it 
arises when a conspirator speaks of it with little caution, so that a slave or another third person hears you, as 
happened to the sons of Brutus, who in managing the affair with the legates of Tarquin were heard by a slave, who 
accused them; 28 or indeed when through levity you come to communicate it to a woman or boy whom you love or 
to a similar, flighty person, as did Dymnus, one of the conspirators with Philotas against Alexander the Great, who 
communicated the conspiracy to Nicomachus, a boy loved by him; he told it at once to Cebalinus, his brother, and 
Cebalinus to the king. 29 As to being exposed by conjecture, there is the conspiracy of Piso against Nero for an 
example. In this Scaevinus, one of the conspirators, made a will the day before he had to kill Nero; ordered that 
Milichus, his freedman, sharpen an old and rusty dagger of his; freed all his slaves and gave them money; and had 
bandages ordered to bind wounds—by which conjectures Milichus became aware of the thing and accused him to 
Nero. Scaevinus was taken and with him Natalis, another conspirator, who had been seen to speak together at 
length and in secret the day before; and since they were not in accord on the discussion 9 ’ they had had, they were 
forced to confess the truth; so the conspiracy was exposed, with ruin to all the conspirators. 31 

[6] It is impossible to guard oneself from these causes of the exposure of conspiracies, so that through malice, 
imprudence, or levity it is not exposed at whatever time the knowers of it surpass the number of three or four. 
When more than one of them is taken, it is impossible not to find it out, because two cannot be agreed together in 
all their reasonings. When only one of them is taken, and he is a strong man, he can silence the conspirators with 
the strength of his spirit; but the conspirators must not have less spirit than he to stay steady and not expose 
themselves by flight, for the conspiracy is exposed by one party in which the spirit fails, whether by the one who is 
held or the one who is free. Rare is the example introduced by Titus Livy in the conspiracy made against 
Hieronymus, king of Syracuse, in which Theodoras, one of the conspirators, was taken and with great virtue 
concealed all the conspirators and accused the friends of the king. On the other hand, the conspirators trusted so 
much in the virtue of Theodoras that no one left Syracuse or gave any sign of fear. 32 Thus one passes through all 
these dangers in managing a conspiracy before one comes to its execution, for which, if one wishes to escape, there 
are these remedies. The first and the most true—indeed, to say better, the only one—is not to give time to the 
conspirators to accuse you, and to communicate the thing to them when you want to do it, and not before. Those 
who have done thus escape for certain the dangers in practicing it, and most often the others; indeed they have all 
had a happy end, and any prudent individual would have occasion to govern himself in this mode. I wish it to be 
enough for me to bring up two examples. 

[7] Nelematus, unable to endure the tyranny of Aristotimus, tyrant of Epirus, gathered many relatives and friends 
in his house; and when he had urged them to free the fatherland, some of them requested time to deliberate and 
order themselves. Then Nelematus had his slaves lock the house, and to those whom he had called in, he said: 
“Either you swear to go now to do this execution or I will give you all as prisoners to Aristotimus.” Moved by these 
words, they swore, and having gone without lapse of time, they executed the order of Nelematus happily. 33 When a 
Magian had by deception seized the kingdom of the Persians, and Ortanes, one of the great men of the kingdom, 
had understood and exposed the fraud, he conferred with six other princes of that state, saying that he was about to 
avenge the kingdom from the tyranny of that Magian. When someone of them asked for time, Darius, one of the 
six called by Ortanes, got up and said: “Either we shall go now to do this execution or I will go there to accuse all.” 
And so, getting up in accord, without giving time for someone to repent, they executed their plans happily. 34 
Similar to these two examples also is the mode that the Aetolians adopted for killing Nabis, the Spartan tyrant. 
They sent their citizen Alexamenus to Nabis with thirty horse and two hundred infantrymen under color of sending 
him aid; and the secret they communicated only to Alexamenus, and on the others they imposed obedience to him 
in anything whatsoever, under penalty of exile. He went to Sparta and never communicated his commission except 
when he wished to execute it; hence they succeeded in killing him. 35 Thus by these modes these men escaped the 
dangers that are borne in managing conspiracies; and whoever imitates them will always escape them. 


[8] [To show] that everyone can do as they did, I wish to give the example of Piso, cited above. Piso was a very 
great and very reputed man and a familiar of Nero, in whom he trusted very much. Nero often went to his gardens 
to eat with him. Thus Piso could make friends with men of spirit, of heart, and of disposition apt for such an 
execution (which is very easy for someone great); and when Nero was in his gardens, he could communicate the 
affair to them, and with fitting words he inspired them to do that which they did not have time to refuse and in 
which it was impossible not to succeed . 16 So, if all the others are examined, few will be found that could not be 
conducted in the same mode. But because men ordinarily understand little of the actions of the world, they often 
make very grave errors, and so much the greater in those that have more of the extraordinary, as is this. Thus the 
thing should never be communicated unless necessary and in the deed; and if indeed you wish to communicate it, 
communicate it to one alone, of whom you have had very long experience or who is moved by the same causes as 
you. To find one individual so made is much easier than to find more, and because of this there is less danger in it. 
Then, if even he deceives you, there is some remedy for defending yourself, which there is not where the 
conspirators are very many. For from someone prudent I have heard it said that to one individual everything can be 
spoken of, because if you do not let yourself be led to write in your hand, the yes of one individual is worth as 
much as the no of the other. Everyone should guard himself from writing as from a reef, for there is nothing that 
convicts you more easily than what is written by your hand. When Plautianus wished to have Severus the emperor 
and his son Antoninus killed, he commissioned the thing to Saturninus, the tribune, who—since he wished to 
accuse him, not to obey him, and feared that when it came to the accusation, Plautianus would be more believed 
than he—asked for a note in his hand that would vouch for this commission. Plautianus, blinded by ambition, did 
that for him; hence it followed that he was accused and convicted by the tribune. Without that note and certain 
other marks, Plautianus would have been superior, so boldly did he deny. 17 Thus some remedy is found for the 
accusation of one individual when you cannot be convicted by a writing or other marks, from which one individual 
should guard himself. 

[9] In the Pisonian conspiracy there was a woman called Epicharis, who in the past had been the mistress of Nero. 
Judging that it would be to the purpose to put among the conspirators a captain of some triremes whom Nero kept 
as his guard, she communicated to him the conspiracy but not the conspirators. Hence, when that captain broke his 
faith and accused her to Nero, so much was Epicharis’s audacity in denying it that Nero, left confused, did not 
condemn her. 8 There are thus two dangers in communicating the thing to one alone: one, that he accuses you in 
evidence; the other, that having been convicted and constrained by the punishment, he accuses you after he has 
been taken because of some suspicion or some indication from him. But in both of these two dangers there is some 
remedy, as one can deny the one by citing the hatred that he has for you, and deny the other by citing the force that 
constrained him to tell lies. Thus it is prudence not to communicate the thing to anyone, but to act according to 
the examples written above; or, if indeed you communicate it, not to pass beyond one individual, where if there is 
some more danger, there is very much less of it than to communicate it to many. 

[10] Close to this mode is when a necessity constrains you to do to the prince that which you see the prince would 
like to do to you, which is so great that it does not give you time except to think about securing yourself. This 
necessity almost always brings the affair to the end desired, and to prove it I wish two examples to be enough. 
Commodus the emperor had Letus and Elettus as heads of the praetorian soldiers and among his first friends and 
familiars; he had Marcia among his first concubines or mistresses. Because he was at some time reprehended by 
them for the modes with which he stained his person and the empire, he decided to have them killed; and he wrote 
on a list Marcia, Letus, Elettus, and some others that he wished to have killed the following night, and he put the 
list under the pillow of his bed. When he went to wash himself, a boy favorite of his came to find that list while 
playing about the room and on the bed; and as he went outside with it in hand, he met Marcia, who took it away 
from him and, having read it and seen its content, at once sent for Letus and Elettus. Having all three recognized 
the danger they were in, they decided to forestall it; and without losing time, they killed Commodus the following 
night. 39 

[11] Antoninus Caracalla, the emperor, was with his armies in Mesopotamia and had as his prefect Macrinus, a 
man more civil than warlike. As it happens that princes who are not good always fear that another may work 
against them that which they fear they deserve for themselves, Antoninus wrote to his friend Maternianus in Rome 
that he should learn from the astrologers if there was anyone who aspired to the empire and make him aware of it. 
Hence Maternianus wrote him that Macrinus was the one who aspired to it; and when the letter reached the hands 
of Macrinus before those of the emperor, and because of that he recognized the necessity either of killing him 
before a new letter arrived from Rome or of dying, he commissioned the centurion Martial, his trusted one, whose 
brother Antoninus had killed a few days before, to kill him; which was executed by him happily. 40 Thus one sees 
that the necessity that does not give time produces almost the same effect as the mode told above by me that 
Nelematus of Epirus held to. One also sees that which I said almost at the beginning of this discourse: that 
menaces offend princes more and are the cause of more efficacious conspiracies than offenses. From those a prince 


should guard himself, for they have either to caress men or secure themselves against them, 41 and never reduce 
them to such straits that they have to think that they must either die or make someone else die. 

[12] As to dangers that are incurred at the execution, these arise either from varying the order, or from spirit 
lacking in him who executes, or from an error that the executor makes through lack of prudence or through not 
bringing the thing to perfection by leaving alive part of those who were planned to be killed. I say, thus, that there 
is not anything that produces so much disturbance and hindrance to all actions of men as there is to have to vary an 
order in an instant, without having time, and to have to bend it from what had been ordered before. If this 
variation produces disorder in anything, it does so in things of war and in things similar to those of which we are 
speaking. For in such actions there is nothing so necessary to produce as that men firm up their spirits to execute 
the part that touches them. If men had turned their fancy for many days to one mode and to one order, and that 
suddenly varies, it is impossible that all not be disturbed, and that everything not be ruined, so that it is far better to 
execute a thing according to the order given, even though one sees some inconvenience in it, than to enter into a 
thousand inconveniences through wishing to suppress that. This happens when one has no time to reorder oneself, 
for if one has time, man can govern himself by his own mode. 

[13] The conspiracy of the Pazzi against Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici is known. The order given was that they 
give a breakfast for the cardinal of San Giorgio and kill them at that breakfast, in which it had been assigned who 
had to kill them, who had to seize the palace, and who had to run through the city and call the people to freedom. 
It befell that when the Pazzi, the Medici, and the cardinal were in the cathedral church in Florence for a solemn 
office, it was understood that Giuliano was not breakfasting there that morning. That made the conspirators 
assemble together, and what they had to do in the house of the Medici they decided to do in church. That came to 
disturb the whole order because Giovambatista da Montesecco did not wish to share in the homicide, saying that 
he did not wish to do it in church. So they had to change new ministers in every action, who did not have time to 
firm up their spirits and made such errors that in its execution they were crushed. 42 

[14] Spirit is lacking in whoever executes either through reverence or through the executor’s own cowardice. So 
great are the majesty and the reverence that accompany the presence of a prince that it is an easy thing for them 
either to soften or to terrify an executor. After Marius had been taken by the Minturnans, a slave was sent to kill 
him, who, frightened by the presence of that man and by the memory of his name, became cowardly and lost all 
force for killing him. 43 If this power is in a man bound and a prisoner, and drowned in bad fortune, how much 
greater can it be held to be in an unshackled prince with the majesty of his ornaments, pomp, and retinue! So 
much pomp as this can frighten you, or, truly, with some gratifying greeting mollify you. Some persons conspired 
against Sitalces, king of Thrace; they fixed the day of the execution; they assembled at the place that had been 
fixed, where the prince was; but no one of them moved to hurt 44 him, so that they left without having attempted 
anything and without knowing what had impeded them; and they faulted one another. They fell into such an error 
many times, so that when the conspiracy was discovered, they bore the penalty for the evil that they were able and 
not willing to do. 15 Two of his brothers conspired against Alfonso, duke of Ferrara, and they used Giannes, priest 
and cantor of the duke, as a middleman. Many times at their request he brought the duke to them so that they had 
the liberty to kill him. Nonetheless, never did one of them dare to do it, so that, when discovered, they bore the 
penalty of their wickedness and lack of prudence. 46 This negligence could not have arisen from other than that 
either the presence [of the prince] must have terrified them or some humanity of the prince must have humiliated 
them. In such executions, inconvenience or error arises through lack of prudence or lack of spirit; for both of these 
two things possess you, and when carried away by that confusion of brain, you say or do that which you ought not. 

[15] That men are possessed and confused Titus Livy cannot demonstrate better than when he describes 
Alexamenus the Aetolian when he wished to kill Nabis the Spartan, of whom we have spoken above. 47 When the 
time of the execution came and he had exposed to his men what had to be done, Titus Livy says these words: “And 
he himself gathered his spirit, confused by the thought of so great a thing.” 48 For it is impossible that anyone not 
be confused, even though of firm spirit and used to the death of men and to putting steel to work. Therefore one 
ought to choose men experienced in such managing and to believe in no one else, even though held very spirited. 
For of spirit in great things there is no one who may promise himself a sure thing without having had experience. 
Thus this confusion can either make the arms drop from your hands or make you say things that produce the same 
effect. Lucilla, sister of Commodus, ordered that Quintianus kill him. He awaited Commodus in the entrance of 
the amphitheater and, approaching him with a naked dagger, cried out, "The Senate sends you this!”—which 
words made him be taken before he had lowered his arm to strike. 49 Messer Antonio da Volterra, delegated, as was 
said above, to kill Lorenzo de’ Medici, said in approaching him, “Oh, traitor”—which utterance was the salvation 
of Lorenzo and the ruin of that conspiracy. 50 For the causes that have been said, one cannot bring the thing to 
perfection when one conspires against one head; but one does not easily bring it to perfection when one conspires 
against two heads. Indeed it is so difficult that it is almost impossible that it succeed. For to do a like action at the 


same time in different places is almost impossible, for one cannot do it at different times if one does not wish the 
one to spoil the other. So if conspiring against a prince is a thing doubtful, dangerous, and hardly prudent, 
conspiring against two is altogether vain and flighty. If there were not reverence for the historian, I would never 
believe possible what Herodian says of Plautianus, when he commissioned Saturninus the centurion that he alone 
kill Severus and Antoninus, who inhabited different countries. 51 For it is a thing so distant from the reasonable that 
any other than this authority would not make me believe it. 

[16] Certain young Athenians conspired against Diodes and Hippias, tyrants of Athens. They killed Diodes; and 
Hippias, who was left, avenged him. 55 Chion and Leonidas, Heracleans and disciples of Plato, conspired against 
Clearchus and Satirus, tyrants; they killed Clearchus, and Satirus, who remained alive, avenged him. 51 The Pazzi, 
many times cited by us, succeeded in killing only Giuliano. 54 So, everyone ought to abstain from similar 
conspiracies against many heads, because one does not do good either to oneself or to the fatherland or to anyone. 
Indeed, those who are left become more unendurable and more bitter, as Florence, Athens, and Heraclea know, 
which were cited before by me. It is true that the conspiracy that Pelopidas made to free his fatherland, Thebes, 
had all the difficulties, though nonetheless it had a very happy end because Pelopidas conspired not only against 
two tyrants but against ten. Not only was he not trusted, and entry to the tyrants was not easy for him, but he was a 
rebel; nonetheless, he was able to come to Thebes, kill the tyrants, and free the fatherland. Yet nonetheless he did 
everything with the aid of one Charon, counselor of the tyrants, from whom he had easy entry for his execution. 55 
There should not be anyone, nonetheless, who takes example from him because it was an impossible enterprise, 
and a marvelous thing to succeed, as was and is held by the writers who celebrate it as a thing rare and almost 
without example. Such an execution can be interrupted by a false imagination or by an unforeseen accident that 
arises in the deed. The morning that Brutus and the other conspirators wished to kill Caesar, it happened that he 
spoke at length with Gnaeus Popilius Lenatus, one of the conspirators; and seeing this lengthy speaking, the others 
suspected that the said Popilius had revealed the conspiracy to Caesar. They were about to try to kill Caesar there 
and not wait for him to be in the Senate; and they would have done it if the discussion had not ended, and having 
seen that it did not produce any extraordinary movement in Caesar, they were reassured. 56 These false 
imaginations are to be considered and, with prudence, to be held in respect; and so much the more since it is easy 
to have them. For whoever has a stained conscience easily believes that one speaks of him; one can hear a word, 
said for another end, that perturbs your spirit and makes you believe it was said about your case. It either makes 
you expose the conspiracy yourself by flight or confuses the action by hastening it out of its time. And this arises all 
the more easily when there are many to be aware of the conspiracy. 

[17] As to accidents, because they are unexpected, one cannot show them except with examples so as to make men 
cautious in accord with them. Because of the indignation he had against Pandolfo, who had taken away from him 
the daughter whom previously he had given as wife, Giulio Belanti of Siena, of whom we have made mention 
above, decided to kill him and chose this time. Pandolfo used to go almost every day to visit an invalid relative of 
his, and in going there he would pass by the houses of Giulio. Thus, having seen this, he ordered his conspirators to 
be in the house in order to kill Pandolfo while he was passing; and when they had placed themselves armed inside 
the exit, he kept one at the window so that as Pandolfo passed, when he was close to the exit, he would make a 
sign. It happened that when Pandolfo came, and that one had made the sign, he met a friend who stopped him; and 
some of those who were with him kept coming onward, and as they saw and heard the noise of arms, they 
discovered the ambush, so that Pandolfo saved himself and Giulio and his partners had to flee from Siena. The 
accident of that encounter prevented that action and made Giulio ruin his enterprise. 57 Because such accidents are 
rare, one cannot produce any remedy for them. It is surely necessary to examine all those that can arise and 
remedy them. 

[18] At present it remains only to dispute about the dangers that are incurred after the execution. These are only 
one, and that is when someone is left who may avenge the dead prince. Thus his brothers can be left or his sons or 
other adherents for whom the principality awaits. And they who may produce this vengeance can be left either by 
your negligence or by the causes said above, as happened to Giovanni Andrea da Lampagnano, together with his 
conspirators, when they killed the duke of Milan. Since a son of his and two of his brothers were left, they were in 
time to avenge the dead. 55 And truly in these cases the conspirators are excused because they have no remedy for 
it; but when someone is left alive from it through lack of prudence or by their negligence, then it is that they merit 
no excuse. Some Forli conspirators killed Count Girolamo, their lord, and took his wife and his children, who were 
small. Since it appeared to them that they could not live secure if they did not become masters of the fortress, and 
the castellan was not willing to give it to them. Madonna Caterina (so the countess was called) promised the 
conspirators that if they let her enter it, she would deliver it to them and they might keep her children with them as 
hostages. Under this faith they let her enter it. As soon as she was inside, she reproved them from the walls for the 
death of her husband and threatened them with every kind of revenge. And to show that she did not care for her 


children, she showed them her genital parts, saying that she still had the mode for making more of them. So, short 
of counsel and late to perceive their error, they suffered the penalty of their lack of prudence with a perpetual 
exile. 59 But of all the dangers that can come after the execution, there is none more certain nor more to be feared 
than when the people is the friend of the prince that you have killed. For conspirators do not have any remedy for 
this since they can never secure themselves against it. As example there is Caesar, who, because he had the people 
of Rome as his friend, was avenged by it; for having expelled the conspirators from Rome, it was the cause that in 
various times and in various places all were killed.' 10 

[19] Conspiracies that are made against the fatherland are less dangerous for the ones who make them than are 
those against princes. For in managing them there are fewer dangers than in the latter; in executing them they are 
the same; after the execution there is not any. In managing them there are not many dangers because a citizen can 
order himself for power without making his mind and his plan manifest to anyone. And unless these orders of his 
are interrupted, his enterprise can proceed happily; if they are interrupted with some laws, he can bide his time 
and enter by another way. It is understood that this is in a republic where there is some part of corruption, for 
since one not corrupt has no place for a wicked beginning, these thoughts cannot befall one of its citizens. Thus 
citizens can aspire to the principality by many means and many ways when they do not bear the danger of being 
crushed, both because republics are slower than a prince, suspect less, and through this are less cautious and 
because they have more respect for their great citizens and through this the latter are bolder and more spirited in 
acting against them. Everyone has read the conspiracy of Catiline written by Sallust and knows that after the 
conspiracy was exposed, Catiline not only stayed in Rome but came to the Senate and spoke rudely to the Senate 
and to the consul, so much was the respect that that city had for its citizens. 61 When he had left Rome and he was 
already out with his armies, Lentulus and those others would not have been taken if there had not been letters in 
their hands that accused them manifestly. 62 Hanno, a very great citizen in Carthage aspiring to tyranny, had 
ordered that the whole Senate be poisoned at the wedding of a daughter of his, and afterward that he be made 
prince. When this affair was learned of, the Senate did not make any provision for it other than a law that put 
limits on the expenses for banquets and weddings, so much was the respect that they had for his qualities. 63 It is 
indeed true that in executing a conspiracy against the fatherland there are more difficulty and greater dangers 
because it is rare that your own forces conspiring against so many are enough; and not everyone is prince of an 
army, as was Caesar, 64 or Agathocles, 6 ' or Cleomenes, 66 and such, who have seized their fatherland at a stroke and 
with their forces. For to such the way is very easy and very secure; but others who do not have so many added 
forces must do things either with deception and art or with foreign forces. As to deception and art, when 
Pisistratus the Athenian had conquered the Megarians, and through this acquired favor in the people, he went out 
one morning wounded, saying that out of envy the nobility had injured him, and he asked to be able to lead armed 
men with him as his guard. From this authority he easily rose up to so much greatness that he became tyrant of 
Athens. 67 Pandolfo Petrucci returned with other exiles to Siena, and the guard of the piazza was given to his 
government as a mechanical affair that others had refused; nonetheless, in time those armed men gave him so 
much reputation that in a short time he became prince of it. 68 Many others have adopted other devices and other 
modes, and in space of time and without danger they have led themselves to it. Those who have conspired to seize 
the fatherland with their forces or with external armies have had various outcomes according to fortune. Catiline, 
cited before, came to ruin beneath it. 69 Since poison did not succeed for Hanno, of whom we have made mention 
above, he armed many thousands of persons from his partisans, and they and he were killed. 70 So as to make 
themselves tyrants, some of the first citizens of Thebes called a Spartan army in aid, and they took the tyranny of 
that city. 71 So when all conspiracies made against the fatherland are examined, none—or few—will be found that 
were crushed in their managing, but all either were successful or were ruined in the execution. When they were 
executed, they no longer bore any other dangers than the nature of the principality bears in itself, for when one 
individual has become tyrant, he has the natural and ordinary dangers that tyranny brings him, for which he has no 
remedies other than have been discoursed of above. 72 

[20] This is how much it occurs to me to write on conspiracies; and if I have reasoned on those that are done with 
steel and not with poison, it arises because they all have one same order. It is true that those of poison are more 
dangerous, being more uncertain, because not everyone has the occasion for it and one needs to delegate to 
whoever has it, and this necessity of delegating makes danger for you. Then for many causes a draft of poison can 
be not fatal, as happened to those who killed Commodus, for after he had thrown up the poison they had given him, 
they were forced to strangle him if they wished for him to die. 71 Princes therefore have no greater enemy than 
conspiracy, for when a conspiracy is made against them, either it kills them or it brings them infamy. For if it 
succeeds, they are dead; if it is exposed, and they kill the conspirators, it is always believed that it was the 
invention of that prince to vent his avarice and cruelty at the expense of the blood and property of those whom he 
has killed. Yet I do not wish to fail to warn that prince or that republic that might be conspired against, so that they 


may have warning that when a conspiracy manifests itself to them, they should seek out and learn very well its 
quality, and measure well the conditions of the conspirators and of themselves, before they undertake an enterprise 
to avenge it. When they find it large and powerful, they should never expose it until they have prepared themselves 
with sufficient forces to crush it; if they do otherwise, they would expose their own ruin. So they ought to 
dissimulate it with all industry, for conspirators, seeing themselves exposed, are driven by necessity and work 
without hesitation. As example, when the Romans left two legions of soldiers as guard of the Capuans against the 
Samnites, as we have said elsewhere, 74 the heads of the legions conspired together to crush the Capuans. When this 
thing was learned in Rome, they commissioned Rutilius, the new consul, to provide for it. To put the conspirators 
to sleep, he made public that the Senate had reaffirmed the stations of the Capuan legions. Since these soldiers 
believed that, and it appeared to them they had time to execute their plan, they did not seek to hasten the affair; 
and so they stayed until they began to see that the consul was separating them one from another—which generated 
suspicion in them and made them expose themselves, and they put their wish into execution. 76 Nor can there be a 
greater example than this on one side and the other, for through this one sees how slow men are in affairs when 
they believe they have time and how quick they are when necessity drives them. Nor can a prince or a republic that 
wishes to defer the exposure of a conspiracy to its advantage use better means than with art to offer opportunity 
soon to conspirators, so that in waiting for it—or since it appears to them that they have time—they give time to 
the former or the latter to punish them. Whoever has done otherwise has hastened his own ruin, as did the duke of 
Athens and Guglielmo de’ Pazzi. When the duke became tyrant of Florence and learned that he was being 
conspired against, he had one of the conspirators taken without otherwise examining the affair, which made the 
others at once take up arms and take the state from him. 76 When Guglielmo was commissioner in Val di Chiana in 
1501 and had learned that there was a conspiracy in Arezzo in favor of the Vitelli to take that town away from the 
Florentines, he went at once to that city, and without thinking about the strength of the conspirators or about his 
own, and without preparing himself with any force, with the counsel of his son the bishop he had one of the 
conspirators taken. After his taking, the others at once took arms and took away the town from the Florentines; and 
from commissioner, Guglielmo became prisoner. 77 But when conspiracies are weak, they can and should be 
crushed without hesitation. Nor also to be imitated in any mode are two means that are used, almost contrary to 
one other: the one by the duke of Athens named before, who had one individual killed who made a conspiracy 
manifest to him to show that he believed he had the benevolence of Florentine citizens. 78 The other [was used] by 
Dion the Syracusan: to try out the intent of anyone whom he had under suspicion, he consented that Callippus, in 
whom he trusted, make a show of making a conspiracy against him. Both of these turned out badly; for the one 
took away spirit from accusers and gave it to whoever wished to conspire. The other gave an easy way to his own 
death; indeed, he was his own head of his conspiracy, as came to him by experience, because Callippus, being able 
to deal against Dion without hesitation, dealt so much that he took from him his state and his life. 79 



Whence It Arises That Changes from 
Freedom to Servitude and from Servitude 
to Freedom Are Some of Them without 
Blood, Some of Them Full of It 

[1] Someone perhaps will doubt whence it arose that of many changes that 
are made from free life to tyrannical, and to the contrary, some of them are 
made with blood, some without; for as is understood through the histories, 
in similar variations sometimes infinite men have been put to death, 
sometimes no one has been injured. That came about in the change that 
Rome made from kings to consuls, where none other than the Tarquins 
were expelled, with no offense to anyone else. 1 That depends on this: for the 
state that is changed arises with violence or not, and because when it arises 
with violence it must arise with the injury of many, it is necessary later, in 
its ruin, that the injured wish to avenge themselves, and from this desire for 
vengeance arise the blood and death of men. But when that state is caused 
by common consent of a collectivity that has made it great, later, when it is 
ruined, the said collectivity does not have cause to offend other than the 
head. And of this sort was the state of Rome with the expulsion of the 
Tarquins, as was also the state of the Medici in Florence, in the ruin of 
whom later, in 1494, none other than themselves were offended. 2 So such 
changes do not come to be dangerous, but those are indeed very dangerous 
that are made by those who have to avenge themselves, which have always 
been of a sort to terrify whoever does nothing but reads of them. And 
because the histories are full of these examples, I wish to omit them. 


Whoever Wishes to Alter a Republic 
Should Consider Its Subject 

[1] It has been discoursed of above 1 that a wicked citizen cannot work for 
ill in a republic that is not corrupt, which conclusion is fortified, beyond the 
reasons that were said then, with the examples of Spurius Cassius and 
Manlius Capitolinus. This Spurius was an ambitious man, and he wished to 
take up extraordinary authority in Rome and to gain the plebs for himself by 
conferring on them many benefits, such as dividing among them the fields 
that the Romans had taken away from the Hernici. This ambition of his was 
exposed by the Fathers and brought under so much suspicion that when he 
spoke to the people and offered to give them the money that had been drawn 
from the grain that the public had made to come from Sicily, they refused 
him altogether, since it appeared to them that Spurius wished to give them 
the price of their freedom. 2 But if such a people had been corrupt, it would 
not have refused the said price, and it would have opened the way to 
tyranny that it closed. Manlius Capitolinus makes a much greater example 
of this, for through him one sees how much virtue of spirit and body, how 
many good works done in favor of the fatherland, an ugly greed for rule 
later cancels. 3 As one sees, it arose in him because of the envy that he had 
for the honors that were done to Camillus. He came to such blindness in his 
mind that, not thinking of the mode of life of the city, not examining the 
subject it had, which was not yet apt to receive a wicked form, he set out to 
make tumults in Rome against the Senate and against the laws of the 
fatherland. There one knows the perfection of that city and the goodness of 
its matter, for in his case none of the nobility moved to favor him, although 
they had been very fierce defenders of one another; none of his relatives 
undertook an enterprise in his favor. With the other accused, unkempt 
persons were accustomed to appear, clad in black, all sad-looking so as to 
beg for pity in favor of the accused; with Manlius, none was seen. The 
tribunes of the plebs, who were always accustomed to favor what appeared 
would come to the benefit of the people—and the more those things went 


against the nobles, the more did they bring them to the fore—in this case 
united with the nobles so as to crush a common plague. Although the people 
of Rome, very desirous of its own utility and a lover of things that went 
against the nobility, did very many favors to Manlius, nonetheless, as the 
tribunes summoned him and delivered his cause to the judgment of the 
people, that people, from defender having become judge, without any 
respect condemned him to death. Therefore I do not believe that there is an 
example in this history more apt to show the goodness of all the orders of 
that republic than this, seeing that no one in that city moved to defend a 
citizen full of every virtue, who publicly and privately had performed very 
many praiseworthy works. For love of the fatherland was able to do more in 
all of them than any other respect, and they considered present dangers that 
depended on him much more than past merits, so much that with his death 
they freed themselves. And Titus Livy says: “This end had a man who would 
have been memorable if he had not been born in a free city.” 4 Two things 
are to be considered here: one, that one has to seek glory in a corrupt city by 
modes other than in one that still lives politically; the other (which is almost 
the same as the first), that men in their proceeding—and so much the more 
in great actions—should consider the times and accommodate themselves 
to them. 

[2] Those who by bad choice or by natural inclination are in discord with 
the times most often live unhappily, and their actions have a bad outcome; 
but it is to the contrary with those who are in concord with the time. And 
without doubt, from the words of the historian cited before, one can 
conclude that if Manlius had been born in the times of Marius and Sulla, 
when the matter was already corrupt and he would have been able to 
impress the form of his ambition, he would have had the same results and 
successes as Marius and Sulla and as others later who aspired to tyranny 
after them. So, likewise, if Sulla and Marius had been in the times of 
Manlius, they would have been crushed amidst their first enterprises. For a 
man can indeed begin to corrupt a people of a city with his modes and his 
wicked means, but for him it is impossible that the life of one individual be 
enough to corrupt it so that he himself can draw the fruit from it. Even if it 
might be possible for him to do it with length of time, it would be 
impossible because of the mode of proceeding of men, who are impatient 
and cannot defer a passion of theirs for long. Next, they deceive themselves 
in things that concern them and in those especially that they very much 
desire, so that either by lack of patience or by deceiving themselves in it, 


they would enter upon an enterprise against the time and would come out 
badly. So if one wishes to take up authority in a republic and put a wicked 
form in it, there is need to find the matter disordered by time, and which 
little by little and from generation to generation may be led to disorder— 
which is led there of necessity if, as is discoursed of above, 5 it is not often 
refreshed with good examples or pulled back toward its beginnings with 
new laws. Thus Manlius would have been a rare and memorable man if he 
had been born in a corrupt city. And so citizens who in republics make any 
enterprise, either in favor of freedom or in favor of tyranny, ought to 
consider the subject that they have, and to judge from that the difficulty of 
their enterprises. For as much as it is difficult and dangerous to wish to 
make a people free that wishes to five servilely, so much is it to wish to 
make a people servile that wishes to live free. Because it is said above that 
men in their working ought to consider the qualities of the times and to 
proceed according to them, we shall speak of this at length in the following 


How One Must Vary with the Times If One 
Wishes Always to Have Good Fortune 

[1] I have often considered that the cause of the bad and of the good fortune 
of men is the matching of the mode of one’s proceeding with the times. For 
one sees that some men proceed in their works with impetuosity, some with 
hesitation and caution. And because in both of these modes suitable limits 
are passed, since one cannot observe the true way, in both one errs. But he 
comes to err less and to have prosperous fortune who matches the time with 
his mode, as I said, and always proceeds as nature forces you. Everyone 
knows that Fabius Maximus proceeded hesitantly and cautiously with his 
army, far from all impetuosity and from all Roman audacity, and good 
fortune made this mode of his match well with the times. For when 
Hannibal, young and with fresh fortune, had come into Italy and had already 
defeated the Roman people two times, and when that republic was almost 
deprived of its good military and was terrified, better fortune could not have 
come than to have a captain who held the enemy at bay with his slowness 
and caution. Nor also could Fabius have been matched with times more 
suitable to his modes, from which he became glorious. One sees that Fabius 
did this by nature and not by choice because when Scipio wished to cross to 
Africa with the armies to put an end to the war, Fabius spoke against it very 
much, as one who was unable to detach himself from his modes and his 
custom; so that Hannibal would still be in Italy if it had been up to him, as 
he was not aware that the times had changed for him and that he needed to 
change the mode of war. If Fabius had been king of Rome, he could easily 
have lost that war; for he did not know how to vary his procedure as the 
times varied. But he was born in a republic where there were diverse 
citizens and diverse humors; as it had Fabius, who was the best in times 
proper for sustaining war, 1 so later it had Scipio in times apt for winning it. 

[2] Hence it arises that a republic has greater life and has good fortune 
longer than a principality, for it can accommodate itself better than one 
prince can to the diversity of times 2 through the diversity of the citizens 


that are in it. For a man who is accustomed to proceed in one mode never 
changes, as was said; and it must be of necessity that when the times change 
not in conformity with his mode, he is ruined. 

[3] Piero Soderini, cited before at other times, 3 proceeded in all his affairs 
with humanity and patience. He and his fatherland prospered while the 
times were conformable to the mode of his proceeding; but as times came 
later when he needed to break with patience and humility, he did not know 
how to do it, so that he together with his fatherland was ruined/ Pope Julius 
II proceeded all the time of his pontificate with impetuosity and fury, and 
because the times accompanied him well, all his enterprises succeeded for 
him. But if other times had come that had demanded other counsel, of 
necessity he would have been ruined, for he would not have changed either 
mode or order in managing himself. 5 Two things are causes why we are 
unable to change: one, that we are unable to oppose that to which nature 
inclines us; the other, that when one individual has prospered very much 
with one mode of proceeding, it is not possible to persuade him that he can 
do well to proceed otherwise. Hence it arises that fortune varies in one man, 
because it varies the times and he does not vary the modes. The ruin of 
cities also arises through not varying the orders of republics with the times, 
as we discoursed of at length above. 6 But they are slower, for they have 
trouble varying because they need times to come that move the whole 
republic, for which one alone is not enough to vary the mode of proceeding. 

[4] And because we have made mention of Fabius Maximus, who held 
Hannibal at bay, it appears to me good to discourse in the following chapter 
of whether, if a captain wishes to do battle in any mode with the enemy, he 
can be prevented by him from doing it. 



That a Captain Cannot Flee Battle When 
the Adversary Wishes Him to Engage in It 

in Any Mode 

[1] “Gnaeus Sulpitius the dictator dragged out the war against the Gauls, as 
he was unwilling to commit himself to fortune against an enemy whom 
time and a foreign place were daily making weaker.” 1 

When an error is followed in which all men or the greater part deceive 
themselves, I do not believe that it is bad to reprove it often. Therefore, 
although I have often shown above how actions in great things do not 
conform to those of ancient times, 2 nonetheless it does not appear to me 
superfluous to repeat it at present. For if one deviates from ancient orders in 
any part, it is especially in military actions, in which at present not one of 
those things is observed that were very much esteemed by the ancients. This 
inconvenience has arisen because republics and princes have imposed this 
care on others, and to flee the dangers they have withdrawn from this 
exercise. If indeed one sometimes sees a king of our times go [to war] in 
person, one does not believe, therefore, that other modes arise from him 
that deserve more praise. For they do that exercise, when indeed they do it, 
for pomp and not for any other praiseworthy cause. Yet they make lesser 
errors when they sometimes look their armies in the face, keeping for 
themselves the title of command, than republics make—and especially the 
Italian ones—that entrust themselves to others and do not understand 
anything that belongs to war; 3 and, on the other hand, since they wish to 
decide about it so as to appear to be the prince themselves, they make a 
thousand errors in such a decision. Although I have discoursed of some of 
them elsewhere, 4 at present I do not wish to be silent about a very 
important one. When these idle princes or effeminate republics send out a 
captain of theirs, the wisest commission it seems to them they give him is to 
impose on him that he not come to battle in some mode 5 —indeed, that 
above all he guard himself against fighting. Since it appears to them that 


they are imitating in this the prudence of Fabius Maximus, who in deferring 
combat saved the state for the Romans, they do not understand that most 
often this commission is null or is harmful. For one ought to accept this 
conclusion: that a captain who wishes to stay in the field cannot flee battle 
whenever the enemy wishes to engage in it in any mode. This commission is 
nothing other than to say: “Do battle to the enemy’s purpose and not yours.” 
For if one wishes to stay in the field, and not to do battle, there is no secure 
remedy for it other than to put oneself at least fifty miles distant from the 
enemy and then to keep good spies so that you have time to distance 
yourself when he comes to you. Another policy for it is to shut oneself in a 
city, and both of these two policies are very harmful. In the first, one leaves 
one’s country as prey to the enemy; and a worthy prince will rather try the 
fortune of battle than lengthen the war with so much harm to the subjects. 
In the second policy is manifest loss, for it must be that when you retire 
with an army into a city, you come to be besieged, and in a short time suffer 
hunger and come to surrender. So to escape battle by these two ways is very 
harmful. The mode that Fabius Maximus adopted of staying in strongholds 
is good when you have so virtuous an army that the enemy does not dare to 
come to meet you in the midst of your advantages. Nor can one say that 
Fabius fled from battle, but rather that he wished to wage it at his 
advantage. 6 For if Hannibal had gone to meet him, Fabius would have 
awaited him and done battle with him, but Hannibal never dared to engage 
in combat with him in his mode. So the battle was fled by Hannibal as well 
as by Fabius; but if one of them had wished to engage in it in any mode, the 
other would have had only one of three remedies: the two said above, or to 

[2] That what I say is true one sees manifestly with a thousand examples, 
and especially with the war that the Romans made with Philip of Macedon, 
father of Perseus. For when Philip was assaulted by the Romans, he decided 
not to fight, and so as not to come to it he wished to do first as Fabius 
Maximus had done in Italy; and he put himself with his army on the 
summit of a mountain, where he fortified himself very much, judging that 
the Romans would not dare go to meet him. But when they went there and 
engaged in combat with him, they expelled him from that mountain; and 
he, unable to resist, fled with the greater part of the troops. What saved him, 
so that he was not entirely wasted, was the unevenness of the country, which 
made the Romans unable to follow him. Thus, not willing to fight and 
having encamped himself near the Romans, Philip had to flee; and having 


come to know by this experience that when he did not wish to engage in 
combat it was not enough to stay on top of mountains, and since he did not 
wish to close himself up in towns, he decided to take up the other mode of 
staying many miles distant from the Roman camp. Hence, if the Romans 
were in one province, he went off to the other; and so always wherever the 
Romans left, he entered. Seeing at last that in lengthening the war in this 
way his condition was worsening, and that his subjects were being crushed 
now by him, now by the enemy, he decided to try the fortune of battle, and 
so came to a real battle with the Romans. 7 Thus it is useful not to engage in 
combat when armies are in the conditions that Fabius’s army had and that 
Gnaeus Sulpitius’s had then: 8 that is, having an army so good that the enemy 
does not dare come to meet you inside your fortresses, and when the enemy 
is in your home, and so suffers from the necessities of living, without having 
gotten much of a foothold. In this case it is the useful policy for the reasons 
that Titus Livy says: “He was unwilling to commit himself to fortune against 
an enemy whom time and a foreign place were daily making weaker.” 9 But, 
in every other situation, you cannot flee battle except with your dishonor 
and danger. For to flee as did Philip is like being defeated, and with the 
more shame the less proof has been made of your virtue. If he succeeded in 
saving himself, no other would succeed who had not been aided by the 
country as he. That Hannibal was not master of war no one will ever say; 
and when he was up against Scipio in Africa, if he had seen advantage in 
lengthening the war he would have done it; and perchance, being a good 
captain and having a good army, he would have been able to do it, as did 
Fabius in Italy. But since he did not do it, one ought to believe that some 
important cause moved him. For a prince who has put an army together and 
sees that by lack of money or friends he cannot hold such an army for long is 
altogether mad if he does not try fortune before such an army has to 
dissolve; for by waiting he loses for certain, by trying he might be able to 

[3] One other thing here is also very much to be esteemed, which is that one 
ought to wish to acquire glory even when losing; and one has more glory in 
being conquered by force than through another inconvenience that has 
made you lose. So Hannibal ought to have been constrained by these 
necessities. On the other hand, if Hannibal had deferred battle and Scipio 
had not had enough spirit to go to meet him in his strongholds, he would 
not have allowed him to be able to stay there secure and with advantage as 
in Italy, because he had already conquered Syphax and acquired so many 


towns in Africa. That did not happen to Hannibal when he was up against 
Fabius, nor to the French who were up against Sulpitius. 

[4] So much the less can he flee battle who assaults another’s country with 
an army; for if he wishes to enter into the enemy’s country, he must fight 
with him if the enemy puts himself against him. If he encamps before a 
town, he is all the more obliged to fight, as happened in our times to Duke 
Charles of Burgundy who, when he was encamped at Morat, a town of the 
Swiss, was assaulted and defeated by the Swiss, and as happened to the 
army of France that was likewise defeated by the Swiss as it was encamping 
at Novara. 


11 ft 

That Whoever Has to Deal with Very 
Many, Even Though He Is Inferior, Wins If 
Only He Can Sustain the First Thrusts 

[1] The power of the tribunes of the plebs in the city of Rome was great, 
and it was necessary, as has been discoursed of by us many times, 1 because 
otherwise one would not have been able to place a check on the ambition of 
the nobility, which would have corrupted that republic a long time before it 
did corrupt itself. Nonetheless, as has been said other times, 2 because in 
everything some evil is concealed that makes new accidents emerge, it is 
necessary to provide for this with new orders. When, therefore, the 
tribunate authority became insolent and formidable to the nobility and to all 
Rome, some inconvenience would have arisen from it harmful to Roman 
freedom had they not been shown by Appius Claudius 3 the mode with 
which they had to defend themselves against the ambition of the tribunes. 
This was that they always found among them someone who was either 
fearful or corruptible or a lover of the common good, so that they disposed 
him to oppose the will of the others, who wished to press forward some 
decision against the will of the Senate. That remedy was a great tempering 
of so much authority, and it often helped Rome. This has made me consider 
that whenever there are many powers united against another power, even 
though all together are much more powerful, nonetheless one ought always 
to put more hope in that one alone, who is less mighty, than in the many, 
even though very mighty. For, leaving aside all those things in which one 
alone can prevail over many (which are infinite), this will always occur: that 
by using a little industry, he will be able to disunite the very many and to 
weaken the body that was mighty. In this I do not wish to bring up ancient 
examples, of which there are very many; but I wish modern ones, followed 
in our times, to suffice for me. 

[2] In 1483 all Italy conspired against the Venetians, and after they were 
altogether lost and could no longer remain with an army in the field, they 


corrupted Signor Ludovico, 4 who was governing Milan; and through such 
corruption made an accord in which they not only got back the lost towns 
but usurped part of the state of Ferrara. So those who lost in the war 
remained superior in the peace. 5 A few years ago the whole world conspired 
against France; nonetheless, before the end of the war was seen, Spain 
rebelled from the confederates and made an accord with it so that the other 
confederates were constrained, soon after, to come to accord too. 6 So 
without doubt, when one sees a war started by many against one, 7 one ought 
always to make a judgment that that one 8 has to remain superior, if it is of 
such virtue that it can sustain the first thrusts and with temporizing await 
the time. For if it were not so, it would bear a thousand dangers, as 
happened in ’08 to the Venetians, who would have escaped that ruin if they 
had been able to temporize with the French army and had time to win over 
to themselves one of those who were leagued against them. But not having 
virtuous arms so that they could temporize with the enemy, and because of 
this not having had time to separate one of them, they were ruined. For one 
may see that when he got back his things the pope made himself their 
friend, and so did Spain; and both of these princes would very willingly 
have saved the state of Lombardy for them against France, so as not to 
make it so great in Italy, if they had been able. Thus the Venetians could 
have given part to save the rest. If they had done that in time—so that it did 
not appear that it had been necessity, and before the start of the war—it 
would have been a very wise policy; but after the start it was worthy of 
reproach and perchance of little profit. But before such a start, few of the 
citizens in Venice could see the danger, very few could see the remedy, and 
no one could counsel it. 9 But to return to the beginning of this discourse, I 
conclude that as the Roman Senate had a remedy for the safety of the 
fatherland against the ambition of the tribunes, because they were many, so 
any prince whoever who is assaulted by many will have a remedy whenever 
he knows how to use with prudence suitable means to disunite them. 


12 ft 

That a Prudent Captain Ought to Impose 
Every Necessity to Engage in Combat on 
His Soldiers and Take It Away from Those 

of Enemies 

[1] At other points we have discoursed of how useful is necessity to human 
actions and to what glory they have been led by it. 1 As it has been written by 
certain moral philosophers, the hands and the tongue of men—two very 
noble instruments for ennobling him—would not have worked perfectly nor 
led human works to the height they are seen to be led to had they not been 
driven by necessity. 2 Thus, since the virtue of such necessity was known by 
the ancient captains of armies, and how much the spirits of soldiers through 
it became obstinate in engaging in combat, they would do every work so 
that their soldiers were constrained by [necessity]; and on the other hand, 
they used all industry so that enemies would be freed from it. Because of 
this they often opened the way to the enemy that they could have closed to 
it, and to their own soldiers they closed that which they could have left 
open. Thus he who desires either that a city be defended obstinately or that 
an army in the field engage in combat obstinately ought to contrive above 
every other thing to put such necessity in the breasts of whoever has to 
engage in combat. Hence a prudent captain who has to go capture a city 
ought to measure the ease or the difficulty of capturing it from knowing and 
considering what necessity constrains its inhabitants to defend themselves; 
and if he finds there very much necessity that constrains them to defense, he 
should judge the capture difficult; otherwise he should judge it easy. 
Therefore it arises that towns are more difficult to acquire after rebellion 
than they were in the first acquiring, for in the beginning they surrendered 
easily, not having cause to fear punishment because they had not offended; 
but since it appears to them that they have offended when they have rebelled 
afterward, and because of this they fear punishment, they become difficult 
to capture. Such obstinacy also arises from the natural hatreds that 


neighboring princes and neighboring republics have for one another, which 
proceeds from the ambition to dominate and from jealousy for their state— 
especially if they are republics—as happened in Tuscany. Such rivalry and 
contention have made and will always make the capture of one by another 
difficult. Therefore, whoever considers well the neighbors of the city of 
Florence and the neighbors of the city of Venice will not marvel, as many 
do, that Florence had more expense in wars and acquired less than Venice. 
For it all arises from the Venetians’ not having had neighboring towns so 
obstinate for defense as Florence has had, because all the cities next to 
Venice had been used to living under a prince, and not free, and those who 
were accustomed to serving often reckoned little a change of patron— 
indeed, they often desired it. So although Venice has had more powerful 
neighbors than Florence, because it found the towns less obstinate, it has 
been able to conquer them sooner than did the latter, which was surrounded 
all by free cities. 

[2] Thus, to return to the first discourse, when he assaults a town, a captain 
ought to contrive with all diligence to lift such necessity from its defenders, 
and in consequence such obstinacy—if they have fear of punishment, he 
promises pardon, and if they had fear for their freedom, he shows he does 
not go against the common good but against the ambitious few in the city, 
which has many times made campaigns and captures of towns easier. 
Although such coloring over as this is easily recognized, and especially by 
prudent men, nonetheless peoples are often deceived in it who, greedy for 
present peace, close their eyes to whatever other snare might be laid under 
the big promises. Infinite cities have become servile in this way, as 
happened to Florence in very near times, 3 and as happened to Crassus and 
his army. Although he recognized the vain promises of the Parthians, which 
were made to take away from his soldiers the necessity of defending 
themselves, he was not therefore able to keep them obstinate, blinded by the 
offers of peace that were made to them by their enemies, as one sees 
particularly from reading his life. 4 I say therefore that when the Samnites 
overran and plundered the fields of the Roman confederates, outside the 
agreements in the accord and through the ambition of the few, and when 
they then sent ambassadors to Rome to ask for peace, offering to restore the 
things plundered and to give as prisoners the authors of the tumults and the 
plundering, they were rebuffed by the Romans. After they returned to 
Samnium without hope of accord, Claudius Pontius, then captain of the 
army of the Samnites, showed with a notable oration of his that the Romans 


wished for war in any mode, and although they by themselves desired peace, 
necessity made them continue the war, saying these words: “War is just to 
whom it is necessary, and arms are pious to those for whom there is no 
hope save in arms.” 5 On that necessity he, with his soldiers, founded hope 
of victory. So as not to have to return again to this matter, it appears to me 
good to bring up those Roman examples that are most worthy of notice. 
Gaius Manilius was with the army up against the Veientes, and since part of 
the Veientian army entered the stockade of Manilius, Manilius ran with a 
band to their relief; and they seized all the exits in the camp so that the 
Veientes could not save themselves. Hence, seeing themselves closed in, the 
Veientes began to combat with so much rage that they killed Manilius and 
would have crushed all the rest of the Romans if by the prudence of one 
tribune the way had not been opened for them to go out. 6 Here one sees that 
while necessity constrained the Veientes to combat, they combated very 
ferociously; but when they saw the way open, they thought more of fleeing 
than of engaging in combat. 

[3] The Volsci and the Aequi had entered into Roman borders with their 
armies. The consuls were sent up against them. So in the travail of the fight, 
the army of the Volsci, whose head was Vettius Messius, found itself at a 
stroke enclosed between its stockade, which had been seized by the 
Romans, and the other Roman army; and seeing that they needed either to 
die or to make a way for themselves with steel, he said these words to his 
soldiers: “Go with me; neither wall nor ditch oppose you but the armed 
oppose the armed; alike in virtue, you are superior in necessity, which is the 
last and greatest weapon.” 7 So this necessity is called by Titus Livy “the last 
and greatest weapon.” When Camillus, the most prudent of all the Roman 
captains, was already inside the city of the Veientes with his army and 
wanted to make its taking easier and to take away from the enemy a last 
necessity of defending themselves, he commanded—so that the Veientes 
heard—that no one should hurt those who were unarmed, so that when the 
arms were thrown to earth, that city was taken almost without blood. 8 Such 
a mode was later observed by many captains. 


« 13 ?* 

Which Is More to Be Trusted, a Good 
Captain Who Has a Weak Army or a Good 
Army That Has a Weak Captain 

[1] When Coriolanus had become an exile from Rome, he went to the 
Volsci, and having contracted an army there to avenge himself against his 
citizens, he came to Rome. From there he later departed, more through 
piety for his mother than by the strength of the Romans. At this place Titus 
Livy says that it is to be known by this that the Roman republic grew more 
by the virtue of the captains than of the soldiers, considering that in the past 
the Volsci had been conquered and that they had conquered only after 
Coriolanus was their captain. 1 Although Livy holds such an opinion, 
nonetheless in many places of his history one sees that the virtue of the 
soldiers had given marvelous proofs of itself without a captain and that they 
had been more orderly and more ferocious after the death of their consuls 
than before they died, as occurred in the army that the Romans had in Spain 
under the Scipios. When the two captains died, it was able with its virtue 
not only to save itself but to conquer the enemy and to preserve that 
province for the republic. 2 So reviewing 3 the whole, one will find many 
examples where only the virtue of the soldiers won the battle, and many 
others where only the virtue of the captains has produced the same effect, 
so that one can judge that the one has need of the other, and the other of 
the one. 

[2] Here it is good to consider, first, what is more to be feared, a good army 
badly captained or a good captain accompanied by a bad army. And 
following Caesar’s opinion in this, one ought to reckon little of both. For as 
he was going into Spain against Afranius and Petreius, who had a very good 
army, he said that he reckoned them little “because he was going against an 
army without a leader,” showing the weakness of the captains. On the 
contrary, when he went into Thessaly against Pompey, he said, “I go against 
a leader without an army.” 4 


[3] One can consider another thing: to whom is it easier, to a good captain 
to make a good army or to a good army to make a good captain? On which I 
say that such a question appears decided, because many who are good will 
more easily find or instruct one individual so that he becomes good than one 
individual will make many. When Lucullus was sent against Mithridates he 
was altogether inexpert in war; nonetheless that good army, in which there 
were very many very good heads, soon made him a good captain. 5 The 
Romans, for lack of men, armed very many slaves and gave them to 
Sempronius Gracchus to exercise, who in a short time made a good army. 6 
As we have said elsewhere, 7 a short time after Pelopidas and Epaminondas 
had drawn their fatherland, Thebes, from servitude to the Spartans, they 
made very good soldiers of Theban peasants, who were able not only to 
withstand the Spartan military but to conquer it. So the affair is even, 
because the one good can find the other. Nonetheless, a good army without 
a good head usually becomes insolent and dangerous, as the army of 
Macedon became after the death of Alexander, 8 and as the veteran soldiers 
in the civil wars were. 9 So I believe that a captain who has time to instruct 
men and occasion to arm them is very much more to be trusted than an 
insolent army with a head made tumultuously by it. Thus the glory and the 
praise are to be doubled for those captains who have had not only to 
conquer the enemy but to instruct their army and make it good before they 
come hand to hand with him; for in these a double virtue is shown, and so 
rare that if such a task had been given to many, they would be reckoned and 
reputed very much less than they are. 


What Effects New Inventions That Appear 
in the Middle of the Fight and New Voices 
That Are Heard May Produce 

[1] Of how much moment in conflicts and in fighting a new accident may be 
that arises because of a thing newly seen or heard is demonstrated in very 
many places, and especially by this example that occurred in the fighting 
that the Romans did with the Volsci. Here Quintius, seeing one of the wings 
of his army bending, began to cry out loudly that it should stand steady 
because the other wing of the army was victorious, and—this word having 
given spirit to his men and terrified the enemy—he won. 1 If such voices 
produce great effects in a well-ordered army, in a tumultuous and badly 
ordered one they produce the greatest because the whole is moved by a like 
wind. I wish to bring up one notable example of this that occurred in our 
times. The city of Perugia was divided a few years ago into two parties, 
Oddi and Baglioni. The latter were reigning; the others were exiles who, 
having gathered an army by means of their friends and brought themselves 
down to some town of theirs near Perugia, entered that city one night with 
the favor of the party and without being discovered came to take the piazza. 
Because that city has chains on all the corners of the streets that keep it 
locked up, the Oddi troops had one individual in front who broke the locks 
on them with a steel sledgehammer so that the horse could pass through. 
When all that remained for them to break was the one that blocked the 
piazza, and the call to arms had already been raised, he who was breaking it 
was pressed by the crowd that was coming behind him and, because of this, 
was unable to lift his arms well to break. To be able to manage, he came out 
and said, “Get back!”—and this voice going from rank to rank saying 
“Back!” began to make the last ones flee, and little by little the others, with 
so much fury that they were broken by themselves. So the plan of the Oddi 
was in vain, because of so weak an accident. 2 


[2] Here it is to be considered that the orders in an army are necessary not 
so much to be able to engage in combat in orderly fashion as that every least 
accident not disorder you. For it is not because of anything else that popular 
multitudes are useless for war except that every noise, every voice, every 
uproar upsets them and makes them flee. So a good captain among his other 
orders ought to order whoever are those who have to pick up his voice and 
relay it to others, and accustom his soldiers not to believe any but them and 
his captains not to say anything but what has been commissioned by him. 
For when this part has not been well observed, it has often been seen to 
have produced the greatest disorders. 

[3] As to seeing new things, every captain ought to contrive to make one of 
them appear while the armies are hand to hand, which gives spirit to his 
men and takes it away from the enemy; for among the accidents that give 
you victory, this is most efficacious. As witness of this, one can bring up 
Gaius Sulpitius, the Roman dictator. Coming to battle with the French, he 
armed all the pillagers and vile people in the camp, and when they had been 
mounted on mules and other pack animals with arms and ensigns to appear 
as troops on horseback, he put them under the ensigns behind a hill and 
commanded that at a given sign, at the time when the fighting was most 
vigorous, they be exposed and shown to the enemies. When that thing was 
so ordered and done, it gave so much terror to the French that they lost the 
battle. 3 Thus a good captain ought to do two things: one, with some of these 
new inventions, to see to terrifying the enemy; the other, to be prepared so 
that when such have been done by the enemy against him, he can expose 
them and make them turn out vain. So did the king of India to Semiramis, 
who, seeing that that king had a good number of elephants, and wishing to 
terrify him and to show him that she too had plenty of them, constructed 4 
very many of them with the hides of buffaloes and cows, and having put 
them on top of camels, sent them ahead. But when the deception was 
recognized by the king, he made that plan of hers turn out not only vain but 
harmful. The dictator Mamercus was opposing the Fidenates, who to 
terrify the Roman army ordered that in the ardor of fighting a number of 
soldiers should come out of Fidenae with flames on spears so that the 
Romans, seized by the newness of the thing, would break orders within 
themselves. On this it is to be noted that when such inventions have more of 
the true than the fictional, one can indeed then represent them to men 
because, having very much of the mighty, one cannot expose their weakness 
so soon; but when they have more of the fictional than the true, it is good 


either not to do them or, when doing them, to hold them at a distance such 
that they cannot be exposed so soon, as did Gaius Sulpitius with the mule 
riders. For when there is weakness inside them, as they are brought close 
they are soon exposed and do harm to you, and not favor, as did the 
elephants to Semiramis and the flames to the Fidenates. Although in the 
beginning they disturbed the army a little, nonetheless, as the dictator 
intervened and began to cry out to them—saying that they should not shame 
themselves by fleeing smoke like bees, and that they should turn around to 
them, crying out, “Destroy Fidenae with its own flames, which you were 
unable to placate with your benefits”—that shift turned out to be useless to 
the Fidenates, and they were left losers in the fighting. 6 


That One Individual and Not Many Should 
Be Put over an Army; and That Several 
Commanders Hurt 

[1] When the Fidenates had rebelled and had killed the colony that the 
Romans had sent to Fidenae, to remedy this insult the Romans created four 
tribunes with consular power. They left one of them for the guarding of 
Rome and sent three against the Fidenates and the Veientes. Because they 
were divided among themselves and disunited, they brought back dishonor 
and not harm. For they were themselves the cause of the dishonor; the 
virtue of the soldiers was the cause of not receiving harm. Hence the 
Romans, seeing this disorder, had recourse to the creation of the dictator 1 
so that one alone might reorder what three had disordered. Hence one 
recognizes the uselessness of many commanders in an army or in a town 
that has to be defended; and Titus Livy cannot say it more clearly than with 
the words written below: “Three tribunes with consular power documented 
how useless plural command is for war; since each insisted on his own 
counsel, while to the others it seemed otherwise, they made room for 
opportunity to the enemy.” 2 Although this example is enough to prove the 
disorder that several commanders produce in war, I wish to bring up some 
others, both modern and ancient, for greater clarification of the thing. 

[2] In 1500, after the recapture of Milan by the king of France, Louis XII, 
he sent his troops to Pisa so as to restore it to the Florentines; 
Giovambatista Ridolfi and Luca di Antonio degli Albizzi were sent there as 
commissioners. Because Giovambatista was a man of reputation and of 
greater age, Luca left the governing of everything entirely to him; and if he 
did not demonstrate his ambition by opposing him, he demonstrated it by 
keeping silent, and by neglecting and disparaging everything so that he did 
not help actions in the camp either by work or by counsel, as if he had been 
a man of no moment. But one may then see quite the contrary when, 
because of a certain accident that followed, Giovambatista had to return to 


Florence; there Luca, left alone, demonstrated how much he was worth with 
spirit, with industry, and with counsel—all of which things were lost while 
there was company with him. 3 In confirmation of this, I wish to bring up 
anew the words of Titus Livy, who—in referring to how, when Quintius and 
his colleague Agrippa were sent by the Romans against the Aequi, Agrippa 
wished for the whole administration of the war to be with Quintius—says: 
“It is most healthy in the administration of great things that the summit of 
command be with one individual.” 4 That is contrary to what these republics 
and princes of ours do today in sending to places more than one 
commissioner, more than one head, to administer them better, which 
produces confusion beyond reckoning. If one seeks the causes of the ruin of 
Italian and French armies in our times, one will find the most powerful to 
have been this. And it can be concluded truly that it is better to send one 
man of common prudence alone on an expedition than two very worthy 
men together with the same authority. 


16 n 

That in Difficult Times One Goes to Find 
True Virtue; and in Easy Times Not 
Virtuous Men but Those with Riches or 
Kinship Have More Favor 

[1] It has always been, and will always be, that great and rare men are 
neglected in a republic in peaceful times. For through the envy that the 
reputation their virtue has given them has brought with it, one finds very 
many citizens in such times who wish to be not their equals but their 
superiors. On this there is a good passage in Thucydides, the Greek 
historian. He shows that when the Athenian republic was on top in the 
Peloponnesian War, and had checked the pride of the Spartans and almost 
subdued all the rest of Greece, it rose to so much reputation that it planned 
to seize Sicily. This enterprise came under dispute in Athens. Alcibiades 
and some other citizen, planning to be the heads of such an enterprise, 
counseled that it be done, as those who, while thinking little of the public 
good, thought of their honor. But Nicias, who was the first among those 
reputed in Athens, argued against it. The greatest reason that he brought up 
in haranguing the people, so that they might lend him faith, was this: that in 
counseling that this war not be made, he was counseling a thing that would 
do nothing for him. For while Athens was at peace, he knew that there were 
infinite citizens who wished to go ahead of him; but if war was made, he 
knew that no citizen would be superior or equal to him. 1 

[2] By this one sees, therefore, that in republics there is the disorder of 
giving little esteem to worthy men in quiet times. That thing makes them 
indignant in two modes: one, to see themselves lacking their rank; the other, 
to see unworthy men of less substance 2 than they made partners and 
superiors to themselves. That disorder in republics has caused much ruin, 
because those citizens who see themselves undeservedly despised and know 
that easy and not dangerous times are the cause of it strive to disturb them, 


starting new wars to the prejudice of the republic. Thinking over what could 
be the remedies, I find two of them: one, to maintain the citizens poor so 
that they cannot corrupt either themselves or others with riches and without 
virtue; the other, to be ordered for war so that one can always make war and 
always has need of reputed citizens, as did the Romans in their first times. 
For since armies were always kept outside that city, there was always a 
place for the virtue of men; nor could rank be taken away from one 
individual who deserved it and given to another individual who did not 
deserve it. For if indeed [the Roman republic] did so at some time by error 
or for trial, so much disorder and danger soon followed for it that it at once 
returned to the true way. But the other republics that are not ordered like 
that one and that make war only when necessity constrains them cannot 
defend themselves from such an inconvenience; indeed, they always run into 
them, and disorder will always arise when that neglected and virtuous 
citizen is vindictive and has some reputation and connection in the city. 
The city of Rome at one time had a defense; but also, after it had conquered 
Carthage and Antiochus (as was said elsewhere) 3 and no longer feared wars, 
it appeared to it that it could commit armies to whomever it wished, with 
regard not so much to virtue as to other qualities that gave them favor 
among the people. For one may see that Paulus Aemilius often suffered 
rejection for the consulate, nor was he made consul before the Macedonian 
War broke out, which, being judged dangerous, was committed to him by 
agreement of the whole city. 4 

[3] When in our city of Florence many wars continued after 1494, and all 
the Florentine citizens had made a bad showing, the city by fate came upon 
one individual who showed how armies have to be commanded, who was 
Antonio Giacomini. While dangerous wars had to be made, all the ambition 
of the other citizens ceased, and in the choice of commissioner and head of 
the armies he had no competitor; but as soon as a war had to be made in 
which there was no doubt, and very much honor and rank, he found so 
many competitors for it that when three commissioners had to be chosen to 
encamp before Pisa, he was omitted. Although one did not plainly see that 
ill to the republic followed from not having sent Antonio there, nonetheless 
one could very easily have made a conjecture about it; for since the Pisans 
no longer had the wherewithal to defend themselves or to live, if Antonio 
had been there they would have been pressed so much that they would have 
given themselves to the discretion of the Florentines. But since they were 
besieged by heads who knew neither how to press them nor how to force 


them, they were treated so that the city of Florence bought them when it 
could have had them by force. Such indignation must have been able to do 
very much in Antonio, and he needed to be patient and good indeed not to 
desire to avenge himself, either with the ruin of the city, if he was able, or 
with the injury of some particular citizen. 5 From that a republic ought to 
guard itself, as will be discoursed of in the following chapter. 


17 ft 

That One Individual Should Not Be 
Offended and Then That Same One Sent to 
an Administration and Governance of 


[1] A republic ought to consider very much not putting someone over any 
important administration to whom any notable injury has been done by 
another. Claudius Nero, who left the army that he had confronting 
Hannibal, and with part of it went to the Marches to meet the other consul 
so as to do combat with Hasdrubal before he could join with Hannibal, had 
in the past been confronting Hasdrubal in Spain. Then he had enclosed him 
in a place with his army so that Hasdrubal needed either to engage in 
combat to his disadvantage or die of hunger, and he was so astutely 
detained by Hasdrubal with certain negotiations of an accord that he came 
out from under and took away from him the opportunity of crushing him. 
When that thing was known in Rome, it prompted a great charge against 
him among the Senate and the people, and throughout the city he was 
spoken of indecently, not without great dishonor and indignation for him. 1 
But since he had then been made consul and sent up against Hannibal, he 
adopted the policy written above, which was very dangerous, so that all 
Rome remained doubtful and stirred up until the news came of the defeat of 
Hasdrubal. When Claudius was then asked for what cause he had adopted so 
dangerous a policy, whereby without an extreme necessity he had almost 
staked the freedom of Rome, he replied that he had done it because he 
knew that if he succeeded he would reacquire the glory he had lost in Spain; 
and if he did not succeed, and this policy of his had had a contrary end, he 
knew that he would have avenged himself against the city and the citizens 
who had so ungratefully and indiscreetly offended him. 2 When the passions 
of such offenses are able to do so much in a Roman citizen, and in those 
times when Rome was still uncorrupt, one ought to think about how much 
they are able to do in a citizen of another city that is not made as it was 


then. Because one cannot give a certain remedy for such disorders that arise 
in republics, it follows that it is impossible to order a perpetual republic, 
because its ruin is caused through a thousand unexpected ways. 


« 18 ?* 

Nothing Is More Worthy of a Captain 
Than to Foretell the Policies of the Enemy 

[1] Epaminondas the Theban used to say that nothing was more necessary 
and more useful to a captain than to know the decisions and policies of the 
enemy. 1 Because such knowledge is difficult, he who employs himself so as 
to make conjectures about them deserves so much the more praise. It is not 
so difficult to understand the plans of the enemy as it is sometimes difficult 
to understand his actions, and not so much actions that are done by him at a 
distance as ones present and near. For it has often happened that when a 
tight has lasted until night, whoever has won believes he has lost, and 
whoever has lost believes he has won. That error has made things be decided 
contrary to the safety of the one who decided, as happened to Brutus and 
Cassius, who lost the war because of this error; for when Brutus had won on 
his wing, Cassius believed he had lost, so that the whole army was defeated; 
and, made desperate for his safety by this error, he killed himself. 2 In our 
times, in the battle that Francis, king of France, made with the Swiss in 
Fombardy at Santa Cecilia, that part of the Swiss who were left whole when 
night came over believed they had won, not knowing of those who had been 
defeated and killed. That error made them not save themselves and made 
them wait to engage in combat again in the morning, at such a disadvantage 
to them; and they also made the army of the pope and of Spain err, and 
through such an error come close to ruin, for upon the false news of victory 
it crossed the Po, and if it had proceeded too far ahead, it would have been 
left prisoner of the victorious French. 3 

[2] The like error occurred in the Roman camps and in those of the Aequi. 
When the consul Sempronius was there with the army up against the 
enemy, and after the fighting was set off, the battle dragged on until evening, 
with varying fortune for the one and the other. When night came, both 
armies being half-defeated, neither of them returned to its quarters; indeed, 
each retreated to hills nearby where it believed it would be secure. The 
Roman army divided into two parts: one went with the consul, the other 


with Tempanius, a centurion, by the virtue of whom the Roman army had 
not been entirely defeated that day. When morning came, the Roman 
consul, without further understanding of the enemy, withdrew toward 
Rome; the army of the Aequi did likewise because each of these believed 
that the enemy had won and so each retreated without caring about leaving 
its quarters as booty. It happened that Tempanius, who was retiring with the 
rest of the Roman army, learned from certain wounded of the Aequi that 
their captains had left and had abandoned the lodgings. Hence, upon this 
news, he entered the Roman quarters and saved them, and then he 
plundered those of the Aequi, and returned to Rome victorious. 4 That 
victory, as one sees, consisted only in whichever of them first understood 
the disorders of the enemy. Here one ought to note that it can often occur 
that two armies that are confronting each other may be in the same disorder 
and be suffering the same necessity, and that the one is then left the victor 
that is the first to understand the necessity of the other. 

[3] I wish to give a domestic and modern example of this. In 1498, the 
Florentines had a large army around Pisa and were strongly pressing that 
city, which the Venetians had taken under protection, and the Venetians, 
not seeing another mode of saving it, decided to divert the war by assaulting 
the dominion of Florence from another side. Having made a powerful army, 
they entered by the Val di Lamona and seized the village of Marradi and 
besieged the castle of Castiglione, which is on the hill above. When the 
Florentines heard of this, they decided to come to the aid of Marradi and 
not to diminish the forces they had around Pisa; and having made new 
infantry and ordered new troops on horseback, they sent them in that 
direction. Their heads were Jacopo IV d’Appiano, lord of Piombino, and 
Count Rinuccio da Marciano. Thus when these troops were led to the top of 
the hill above Marradi, the enemy got out from around Castiglione, and all 
went to the village. After both of these two armies had been at the front for 
some days, both suffered very much for provisions and for every other 
necessary thing. The one not having dared to confront the other, nor 
knowing each other’s disorders, both decided on the same evening to move 
their quarters on the coming morning and to retire to the rear, the Venetian 
toward Bersighella and Faenza, the Florentine toward Casaglia and the 
Mugello. Thus when morning came and each of the camps had begun to get 
its baggage under way, by chance a woman left the village of Marradi and 
came toward the Florentine camp, secure because of old age and poverty, 
and desirous of seeing certain of her relatives who were in that camp. 5 


When the captains of the Florentine troops learned from her that the 
Venetian camp was leaving, they were made bold by the news; and having 
changed their counsel, they went after the enemies as if they had dislodged 
them, and they wrote to Florence that they had repelled them and won the 
war. That victory arose from nothing other than having learned before the 
enemies that they were going—which knowledge, if it had come first to the 
other side, would have had the same effect against ours. 



« 19 ?* 

Whether to Rule a Multitude Compliance 
Is More Necessary Than Punishment 

[1] The Roman republic was stirred up by the enmities of the nobles and of 
the plebs; nonetheless, when war was upon them, they sent out Quintius and 
Appius Claudius with the armies. Because Appius was cruel and coarse in 
commanding he was badly obeyed by his men, so that he fled almost 
defeated from his province; because Quintius was kind and of humane 
disposition, he had his soldiers obedient, and he brought back victory. 1 
Hence it appears that in governing a multitude, it is better to be humane 
rather than proud, merciful rather than cruel. Nonetheless, Cornelius 
Tacitus, with whom many other writers consent, concludes the contrary in 
one of his judgments, when he says: 2 “In ruling a multitude, punishment is 
worth more than compliance.” 3 Considering how one could save both of 
these opinions, I say: you have to rule either men who are ordinarily 
partners with you or men who are always subject to you. When they are 
partners with you, one cannot use punishment entirely, nor that severity on 
which Cornelius reasons; and because the Roman plebs had equal command 
in Rome with the nobility, one individual who became prince of it for a 
time could not manage it with cruelty and coarseness. One may often see 
that the Roman captains who made themselves loved by their armies and 
who managed them with compliance had better fruit than those who made 
themselves extraordinarily feared, unless they were accompanied by an 
excessive virtue, as was Manlius Torquatus. But whoever commands 
subjects, of whom Cornelius reasons, ought to turn rather to punishment 
than to compliance so that they do not become insolent and do not trample 
on you because of too much easiness from you. But this ought also to be 
moderated so that one escapes hatred, for to make oneself hated never turns 
out well for any prince. The mode of escaping it is to let the property of 
subjects be, for no prince is desirous of bloodshed if robbery is not 
concealed underneath it, unless he is necessitated, and this necessity comes 
rarely. But when robbery is mixed with it, it always comes; nor are the 


causes and the desire of shedding it ever lacking, as is broadly discoursed of 
in another treatise on this matter. 4 Thus Quintius deserved more praise than 
Appius, and the judgment of Cornelius, within its limits and not in the 
cases observed of Appius, deserves to be approved. 

[2] And because we have spoken of punishment and compliance, it does not 
appear to me superfluous to show that one example of humanity was able to 
do more with the Falisci than arms. 


«20 ft 

One Example of Humanity Was Able to Do 
More with the Falisci Than Any Roman 


[1] When Camillus was with the army around the city of the Falisci and 
besieging it, a schoolmaster of the noblest children of that city, thinking to 
gratify Camillus and the Roman people, went out of the town with them 
under color of exercise, led them all to the camp before Camillus, and 
presented them, saying that through them the town would give itself into his 
hands. Not only was that present not accepted by Camillus, but, having 
stripped that master and bound his hands behind him, and given each one of 
those children a rod in hand, he had him accompanied to town with many 
beatings from them. When that affair was learned of by the citizens, the 
humanity and integrity of Camillus pleased them so much that, without 
wishing to defend themselves more, they decided to give them the town. 1 
Here it is to be considered with this true example how much more a 
humane act full of charity is sometimes able to do in the spirits of men than 
a ferocious and violent act, and that often those provinces and those cities 
that arms, warlike instruments, and every other human force have not been 
able to open have been opened by one example of humanity and of mercy, 
of chastity or of liberality. Many other examples of that besides this one are 
in the histories. One sees that Roman arms were unable to expel Pyrrhus 
from Italy, and the liberality of Fabricius expelled him from it, when he 
made manifest to him the offer that that familiar of his had made to the 
Romans to poison him. 2 One sees too that the capture of New Carthage did 
not give Scipio Afficanus so much reputation in Spain as that example of 
chastity gave him, of having returned the wife—young, beautiful, and 
untouched—to her husband, the fame of which action made all Spain 
friendly to him. 3 One sees too how much this part is desired in great men by 
peoples, and how much it is praised by writers, and by those who describe 
the life of princes, and by those who order how they ought to live. Among 


them Xenophon toils very much to demonstrate how many honors, how 
many victories, how much good fame being humane and affable brought to 
Cyrus, and not giving any example of himself either as proud, or as cruel, or 
as lustful, or as having any other vice that stains the life of men. 4 Yet 
nonetheless, seeing that Hannibal attained great fame and great victories 
with modes contrary to these, it appears to me good to discourse in the 
following chapter on whence this arises. 


#?21 n 

Whence It Arises That with a Different 
Mode of Proceeding Hannibal Produced 
Those Same Effects in Italy as Scipio Did in 


[1] I reckon that some might be able to marvel when they see that some 
captain, notwithstanding that he has held to a contrary life, may have 
nonetheless produced effects similar to those who have lived in the mode 
written about above. So it appears that the cause of the victories does not 
depend on the causes said before; indeed, it appears that those modes bring 
you neither more force nor more fortune, since one can acquire glory and 
reputation through contrary modes. So as not to depart from the men 
written about above, and to clarify better what I wished to say, I say that 
one sees Scipio enter Spain and with his humanity and mercy at once make 
that province friendly to him, and make himself adored and admired by its 
peoples. 1 To the contrary, one sees Hannibal enter Italy and with modes all 
contrary—that is, with cruelty, violence, robbery, and every type of 
faithlessness—produce the same effect that Scipio had produced in Spain; 
for all the cities of Italy rebelled to Hannibal, all the peoples followed him. 2 

[2] Thinking over whence this could arise, one sees several reasons within 
it. The first is that men are desirous of new things, so much that most often 
those who are well off desire newness as much as those who are badly off. 
For, as was said another time, 3 and it is true, men get bored with the good 
and grieve in the ill. Thus this desire makes the doors open to everyone who 
makes himself head of an innovation in a province: if he is foreign, they run 
after him; if he is from the province, they are around him, promoting and 
favoring him, so that in whatever mode he proceeds he succeeds in making 
great progress in those places. Besides this, men are driven by two principal 
things, either by love or by fear; so whoever makes himself loved commands, 
as does he who makes himself feared. Indeed, most often whoever makes 


himself feared is more followed and more obeyed than whoever makes 
himself loved. 4 

[3] Therefore it is of little import to a captain whichever of these ways he 
walks in, provided that he is a virtuous man and that the virtue makes him 
reputed among men. For when it is great, as it was in Hannibal and in 
Scipio, it cancels all those errors that are made so as to make oneself loved 
too much or to make oneself feared too much. For great inconveniences apt 
to make a prince come to ruin can arise from both of these two modes: for 
he who desires too much to be loved becomes despicable, however little he 
departs from the true way; the other, who desires too much to be feared, 
becomes hateful, however little he exceeds the mode. One cannot hold 
exactly to the middle way, for our nature does not consent to it, but it is 
necessary to mitigate those things that exceed with an excessive virtue, as 
did Hannibal and Scipio. Nonetheless, one may see that both were hurt by 
their modes of life, and were exalted as well. 

[4] The exaltation of both has been told of. The hurt, 5 as to Scipio, is that 
his soldiers in Spain rebelled against him, together with part of his friends, 
an affair that arose from nothing other than their not fearing him. For men 
are so unquiet that however little the door to ambition is opened for them, 
they at once forget every love that they had placed in the prince because of 
his humanity, as did the soldiers and friends told of before. So, to remedy 
this inconvenience, Scipio was constrained to use part of the cruelty he had 
fled from. 6 As to Hannibal, there is no particular example where his cruelty 
and lack of faith hurt him, but one can well presuppose that Naples and 
many other towns that stayed faithful to the Roman people stayed for fear of 
that. One may see this well, that his impious mode of life made him more 
hateful to the Roman people than any other enemy that that republic ever 
had, 7 so that whereas they made the one who wished to poison him 
manifest to Pyrrhus while he was with his army in Italy, they never 
pardoned Hannibal even though he was unarmed and dispersed, so that they 
had him killed. 8 Thus arose these disadvantages for Hannibal because he 
was held impious and a breaker of faith and cruel. But as against these, a 
very great advantage resulted to him from them, which is admired by all the 
writers: that although his army was composed of various kinds of men, no 
dissension ever arose in it, either among them or against him. That could 
not have derived from anything other than the terror that arose from his 
person, which was so great—mixed with the reputation that his virtue gave 


him—that it held his soldiers quiet and united. Thus I conclude that the 
mode in which a captain proceeds is not very important, provided that in it 
is the great virtue that seasons both modes of life; for as was said, in both 
there is defect and danger unless they are corrected by an extraordinary 
virtue. And if Hannibal and Scipio produced the same effect—one with 
praiseworthy things, the other with detestable—it does not appear to me 
good to omit discoursing also of two Roman citizens who by diverse modes, 
but both praiseworthy, attained the same glory. 


*\ 22 k 

That the Hardness of Manlius Torquatus 
and the Kindness of Valerius Corvinus 
Acquired for Each the Same Glory 

[1] There were two excellent captains in Rome at one and the same time, 
Manlius Torquatus and Valerius Corvinus. They lived in Rome with like 
virtue, with like triumphs and glory, and each of them, in what pertained to 
the enemy, acquired it with like virtue; but in what belonged to the armies 
and to their dealings with the soldiers, they proceeded very diversely. For 
Manlius commanded his soldiers with every kind of severity, without 
interrupting either toil or punishment; Valerius, on the other hand, dealt 
with them with every humane mode and means and full of a familiar 
domesticity. For one may see that to have the obedience of the soldiers, one 
killed his son and the other never offended anyone. Nonetheless, with so 
much diversity of proceeding, each produced the same fruit, both against 
enemies and in favor of the republic and of himself. For no soldier ever 
drew back from fighting or rebelled from them or was in any part discrepant 
from their wish, although the commands of Manlius were so harsh that all 
other commands that exceeded the mode were called “Manlian 
commands.” 1 Here it is to be considered, first, whence it arises that Manlius 
was constrained to proceed so rigidly; another, whence it came that Valerius 
could proceed so humanely; another, what cause made these diverse modes 
produce the same effect; and last, which of them is better and more useful 
to imitate. If anyone considers well the nature of Manlius from where Titus 
Livy begins to make mention of him, he will see him as a very strong man, 
pious toward his father and his fatherland, and very reverent to his 
superiors. These things can be known from the death of the Frenchman, 
from the defense of his father against the tribune, and from the fact that 
before he went to the fight with the Frenchman he went to the consul with 
these words: “Without your command I will never fight against the enemy, 
not if I should see certain victory.” 2 Thus when a man so made comes to the 


rank that commands, he desires to find all men similar to himself, and his 
strong spirit makes him command strong things; and that same one wishes 
them to be observed when they are commanded. And it is a very true rule 
that when one commands harsh things, one must make them observed with 
harshness; otherwise you will find yourself deceived. Here it is to be noted 
that if one wishes to be obeyed, it is necessary to know how to command; 
and those know how to command who make a comparison between their 
qualities and those of whoever has to obey, and when they see proportion 
there, then they may command; when disproportion, they abstain from it. 

[2] So a prudent man used to say that to hold a republic with violence, there 
must have been proportion from whoever is forcing to that which is forced. 3 
At whatever time there is this proportion, one can believe that the violence 
would be lasting, but if the one to whom violence is done is stronger than 
the one doing violence, one can suspect that any day that violence might 

[3] But returning to our discourse, I say that to command strong things one 
must be strong; and he who is of this strength and who commands them 
cannot then make them observed with mildness. But whoever is not of this 
strength of spirit ought to guard himself from extraordinary commands and 
can use his humanity in ordinary ones, because ordinary punishments are 
imputed not to the prince but to the laws and to those orders. Thus one 
ought to believe that Manlius was constrained to proceed so rigidly by his 
extraordinary commands, to which his nature inclined him. They are useful 
in a republic because they return its orders toward their beginning and into 
its ancient virtue. As we said above, if a republic were so happy that it often 
had one who with his example might renew the laws, and not only restrain it 
from running to ruin but pull it back, it would be perpetual. 4 So Manlius 
was one of those who retained military discipline in Rome with the 
harshness of his commands—constrained first by his nature, then by the 
desire he had that what his natural appetite had made him order be 
observed. On the other hand, Valerius could proceed humanely as one to 
whom it was enough that things be observed that were customary to observe 
in the Roman armies. That custom, because it was good, was enough to 
honor him; and it was not toilsome to observe it, and it did not necessitate 
Valerius’s punishing transgressors, whether because there were none or 
because, when there had been some, they imputed their punishment, as was 
said, to the orders and not to the cruelty of the prince. So Valerius was able 
to make all humanity arise from him, from which he could acquire the 


soldiers’ favor and their contentment. Hence it arises that since both had the 
same obedience, they could produce the same effect while working 
diversely. Those who might wish to imitate them can fall into those vices of 
scorn and hatred of which I told above of Hannibal and Scipio. You escape 
that with an excessive virtue that is in you, and not otherwise. 

[4] It remains now to consider which of these two modes of proceeding is 
more praiseworthy. I believe that is disputable because the writers praise 
both the one mode and the other. Nonetheless, those who write about how a 
prince has to govern side more with Valerius than with Manlius; and 
Xenophon, cited before by me, by giving many examples of the humanity of 
Cyrus, 5 conforms very much with what Titus Livy says of Valerius. For 
when he had been made consul against the Samnites, and the day came 
when he ought to engage in combat, he spoke to his soldiers with that 
humanity with which he governed himself, and after such speaking Titus 
Livy says these words: “Nowhere else was a leader more familiar with the 
soldier, since he undertook all obligations ungrudgingly among the meanest 
of the soldiers. Also in military sport, when those of the same age entered 
contests among themselves in swiftness and strength, he was courteously 
easygoing; he would win and lose with the same face, nor would anyone be 
rejected who offered himself as a peer; in deeds he was kind according to 
circumstance; in words he was no less mindful of the freedom of another 
than of his own dignity; and (than which nothing is more popular) he 
carried on the magistracies with the same arts by which he sought them.” 6 
Titus Livy speaks honorably in the same way of Manlius, showing that his 
severity in the death of his son made the army so obedient to the consul that 
it was the cause of the victory that the Roman people had against the 
Latins. He proceeds so far in praising him that after such a victory—having 
described, as he has, all the order of the battle and shown all the dangers 
that the Roman people incurred there and the difficulties there were in 
winning—he makes this conclusion: that only the virtue of Manlius gave 
that victory to the Romans. Making comparison of the strength of both 
armies, he affirms that that side would have won that had Manlius for 
consul . 1 So, when all that which the writers speak of it has been considered, 
it would be difficult to judge. Nonetheless, so as not to leave this part 
undecided, I say that in a citizen who lives under the laws of a republic, I 
believe the proceeding of Manlius is more praiseworthy and less dangerous, 
because this mode is wholly in favor of the public and does not in any part 
have regard to private ambition. For by such a mode, showing oneself 


always harsh to everyone and loving only the common good, one cannot 
acquire partisans; for whoever does this does not acquire particular friends 
for himself, which we call, as was said above, partisans. 8 So a similar mode 
of proceeding cannot be more useful or more desirable in a republic, since 
the public utility is not lacking in it and there cannot be any suspicion of 
private power. But the contrary is in Valerius’s mode of proceeding, for if 
indeed the same effects are produced as to the public, nonetheless, because 
of the particular goodwill that he acquires with the soldiers, many doubts 
resurge as to the bad effects on freedom of a long command. 

[5] If these bad effects did not arise in Publicola, the cause was that the 
spirits of the Romans were not yet corrupt, and he had not been in their 
government for long and continually 9 But if we have to consider a prince, as 
Xenophon is considering, we shall take the side altogether of Valerius, and 
leave Manlius; for a prince ought to seek obedience and love in soldiers and 
in subjects. Being an observer of the orders and being held virtuous give 
him obedience; affability, humanity, mercy, and the other parts that were in 
Valerius—and that, Xenophon writes, were in Cyrus—give him love. 10 For 
being a prince particularly well wished for and having the army as his 
partisan conform with all the other parts of his state; but in a citizen who 
has the army as his partisan, this part already does not conform with his 
other parts, which have to make him live under the laws and obey the 

[6] Among the ancient things of the Venetian republic, one reads that when 
the Venetian galleys returned to Venice and a certain difference came 
between those in the galleys and the people, whence they came to tumult 
and to arms, and since the affair could not be quieted either by the force of 
the ministers or by the reverence of citizens or by fear of the magistrates, at 
once a gentleman appeared before those seamen who had been their captain 
the year before, for love of whom they departed and gave up fighting. That 
obedience generated such suspicion in the Senate that a short time 
afterward the Venetians secured themselves against him either by prison or 
by death. 11 I conclude, therefore, that the proceeding of Valerius is useful in 
a prince and pernicious in a citizen, not only to the fatherland but to 
himself: to it, because those modes prepare the way for tyranny; to himself, 
because in suspecting his mode of proceeding, his city is constrained to 
secure itself against him to his harm. So by the contrary I affirm that the 
proceeding of Manlius is harmful in a prince and useful in a citizen, and 
especially to the fatherland; and also it rarely offends, unless indeed the 


hatred that your severity brings you is increased by the suspicion that your 
other virtues bring upon you because of their great reputation, as will be 
discoursed of Camillus below. 


«23 M 

For What Cause Camillus Was Expelled 

from Rome 

[1] We have concluded above that proceeding as did Valerius hurts the 
fatherland and oneself, and proceeding as did Manlius helps the fatherland 
and sometimes hurts oneself. That is proved very well by the example of 
Camillus, who in his proceeding resembled Manlius rather than Valerius. 
Hence Titus Livy, speaking of him, says that “the soldiers both hated and 
marveled at his virtue.” 1 What made him held marvelous was the solicitude, 
the prudence, the greatness of his spirit, the good order that he observed in 
employing himself and in commanding the armies; what made him hated 
was being more severe in punishing them than liberal in rewarding them. 
Titus Livy brings up these causes of the hatred: first, that he applied to the 
public the money that was drawn from the goods of the Veientes that were 
sold and did not divide it as booty; another, that in the triumph, he had his 
triumphal chariot pulled by four white horses, from which they said that 
because of his pride he wished to be equal to the sun; third, that he made a 
vow to give to Apollo the tenth part of the booty of the Veientes, which, 
since he wished to satisfy the vow, he had to take out of the hands of the 
soldiers who had already seized it. 2 Here those things that make a prince 
hateful to the people are well and easily noted, of which the principal one is 
to deprive it of something useful. 3 That is a thing of very much importance, 
because when a man is deprived of things that have utility in themselves, he 
never forgets, and every least necessity makes you remember them; and 
because necessities come every day, you remember them every day. The 
other thing is appearing proud and swollen, which cannot be more hateful 
to peoples, and especially to free ones. Although no disadvantage arises for 
them from that pride and that pomp, nonetheless they hold whoever uses 
them in hatred. A prince ought to guard himself from that as from a reef, 
because to draw on hatred without profit for oneself is a policy altogether 
rash and hardly prudent. 4 



m24 M 

The Prolongation of Conunands Made 

Rome Servile 

[1] If one considers well the proceeding of the Roman republic, one will see 
that two things were the cause of the dissolution of that republic: one was 
the contentions that arose from the Agrarian law; the other, the 
prolongation of commands. If these things had been known well from the 
beginning, and proper remedies produced for them, a free way of life would 
have been longer and perhaps quieter. Although, as to the prolongation of 
command, one does not see that any tumult ever arose in Rome, nonetheless 
one may see in fact how much the authority that citizens took through such 
decisions hurt the city. If the other citizens for whom the magistracy was 
extended had been wise and good as was Lucius Quintius, 1 one would not 
have run into this inconvenience. His goodness is of notable example, for 
when a convention of accord had been made between the plebs and the 
Senate, and the plebs had prolonged the command of the tribunes for a 
year, judging them capable of resisting the ambition of the nobles, the 
Senate, because of rivalry with the plebs and so as not to appear any less 
than it, wished to prolong the consulate for Lucius Quintius. He altogether 
rejected this decision, saying that one should wish to seek to eliminate bad 
examples, not to increase them with another worse example; and he wished 
for new consuls to be made. 2 If that goodness and prudence had been in all 
Roman citizens, the custom of prolonging magistracies would not have been 
allowed to be introduced, and from those one would not have come to the 
prolongation of commands, a thing that in time ruined the republic. The 
first for whom the command was extended was Publius Philo. 3 When he 
was in camp at the city of Palaepolis, and the end of his consulate was 
coming, and it appeared to the Senate that he had that victory in hand, they 
did not send a successor for him but made him proconsul, so that he was the 
first proconsul. Although started by the Senate for public utility, that thing 
was what in time made Rome servile. For the farther the Romans went 
abroad with arms, the more such extension appeared necessary to them and 


the more they used it. That thing produced two inconveniences: one, that a 
lesser number of men were practiced in commands, and because of this 
they came to restrict reputation to a few; the other, that when a citizen 
remained commander of an army for a very long time, he would win it over 
to himself and make it partisan to him, for the army would in time forget 
the Senate and recognize that head. Because of this, Sulla and Marius could 
find soldiers who would follow them against the public good; because of 
this, Caesar could seize the fatherland. For if the Romans had never 
prolonged magistracies and commands, if they would not have come so 
soon to so much power, and if their acquisitions had been later, they would 
have come later still to servitude. 


«25 M 

Of the Poverty of Cincinnatus and of 
Many Roman Citizens 

[1] We have reasoned elsewhere that the most useful thing that may be 
ordered in a free way of life is that the citizens be kept poor. 1 Although in 
Rome it does not appear which order was the one that produced this effect, 
since the Agrarian law especially had so much opposition, nonetheless one 
may see from experience that four hundred years after Rome had been 
built, very great poverty was there. Nor can one believe that any greater 
order produced this effect other than seeing that the way to any rank 
whatever and to any honor whatever was not prevented for you because of 
poverty, and that one went to find virtue in whatever house it inhabited. 
That mode of life made riches less desirable. One sees this manifested, for 
when the consul Minucius was besieged with his army by the Aequi, Rome 
was filled with fear lest that army be lost; so they had recourse to creating a 
dictator, the ultimate remedy in things that afflicted them. They created 
Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus, who was then at his small villa, on which he 
labored with his own hands. That thing is celebrated with golden words by 
Titus Livy, who says, “It is worth listening to by those who scorn all human 
things in comparison with wealth and do not think there is any place for 
great honor and virtue except where riches flow lavishly.” 2 Cincinnatus was 
plowing his small villa, which did not surpass a limit of four jugera , 3 when 
the legates of the Senate came from Rome to convey to him the election to 
his dictatorship, to show him in what danger the Roman republic found 
itself. Having put on his toga, come to Rome, and gathered an army, he 
went to free Minucius; and when he had defeated and despoiled the enemy 
and freed him, he did not wish the besieged army to share in the plunder, 
saying these words to it: “I do not wish that you share in the plunder of 
those of whom you were about to be the plunder.” 4 And he deprived 
Minucius of the consulate and made him a legate, saying to him, “Stay in 
this rank until you learn to know how to be a consul.” 5 He had made Lucius 
Tarquinius, who served in the military on foot because of his poverty, his 


master of the horse. One notes, as was said, the honor that was paid in 
Rome to poverty, and that to a good and worthy man, such as Cincinnatus 
was, four jugera of earth was enough to nourish him. One sees that poverty 
as it was still in the times of Marcus Regulus, for when he was in Africa 
with the armies, he asked license from the Senate to be able to return to 
look after his villa, which was spoiled for him by his workers. 6 Here one 
sees two very notable things: one, poverty, and the fact that they were 
content with it, and that it was enough to those citizens to get honor from 
war, and everything useful they left to the public. For if [Marcus Regulus] 
had thought of getting rich from war, it would have given him little trouble 
that his fields had been spoiled. The other is to consider the generosity of 
spirit of those citizens whom, when put in charge of an army, the greatness 
of their spirit lifted above every prince. They did not esteem kings, or 
republics; nothing terrified or frightened them. When they later returned to 
private status, they became frugal, humble, careful of their small 
competencies, obedient to the magistrates, reverent to their superiors, so 
that it appears impossible that one and the same spirit underwent such 
change. This poverty even lasted until the times of Paulus Aemilius, which 
were almost the last happy times of that republic, when one citizen who 
enriched Rome with his triumph nonetheless kept himself poor. Poverty was 
still so much esteemed that Paulus, in honoring whoever had borne himself 
well in the war, gave to his son-in-law a cup of silver that was the first silver 
to have been in his house. 7 One could show with a long speech how much 
better fruits poverty produced than riches, and how the one has honored 
cities, provinces, sects, and the other has ruined them, if this matter had not 
been celebrated many times by other men. 8 


#?26 ft 

How a State Is Ruined Because of Women 

[1] In the city of Ardea a sedition arose between the patricians and the 
plebeians because of a wedding in which, when a rich woman had to marry, 
a plebeian and a noble alike asked for her. Since she did not have a father, 
the tutors wished to join her to the plebeian, the mother to the noble. From 
this arose so much tumult that they came to arms, in which the whole 
nobility armed itself in favor of the noble and the whole plebs in favor of 
the plebeian. So when the plebs had been overcome, it left Ardea and sent 
to the Volsci for aid; the nobles sent to Rome. The Volsci were first, and 
when they reached the surroundings of Ardea, they encamped. The Romans 
came up and enclosed the Volsci between the town and themselves so that 
they constrained them, pressed by hunger, to surrender at discretion. When 
the Romans entered into Ardea and killed all the heads of the sedition, they 
settled things in that city. 1 

[2] In this text are several things to be noted. First, one sees that women 
have been causes of much ruin, and have done great harm to those who 
govern a city, and have caused many divisions in them. As has been seen in 
this history of ours, the excess done against Lucretia took the state away 
from the Tarquins; 2 another, done against Virginia, deprived the Ten of 
their authority. 3 Among the first causes Aristotle puts down of the ruin of 
tyrants is having injured someone on account of women, by raping them or 
by violating them or by breaking off marriages, as this part is spoken of in 
detail in the chapter where we treat conspiracies. 4 I say thus that absolute 
princes and governors of republics are not to take little account of this part, 
but they should consider the disorders that can arise from such an accident 
and remedy them in time so that the remedy is not with harm and reproach 
for their state or for their republic, as happened to the Ardeans. For having 
allowed that rivalry to grow among their citizens, they were led to divide 
among themselves; and when they wished to reunite, they had to send for 
external help, which is a great beginning of a nearby servitude. 


[3] But let us come to the other notable thing, the mode of reuniting cities, 
of which we shall speak in the coming chapter. 


«27 M 

How One Has to Unite a Divided City; and 
How That Opinion Is Not True That to 
Hold Cities One Needs to Hold Them 


[1] By the example of the Roman consuls who reconciled the Ardeans 
together, one notes the mode by which a divided city ought to be 
composed. 1 That is none other than to kill the heads of the tumults; nor 
ought it to be healed otherwise. For it is necessary to pick one of three 
modes: either to kill them, as they did; or to remove them from the city; or 
to make them make peace together under obligations not to offend one 
another. Of these three modes, this last is most harmful, least certain, and 
most useless. For it is impossible where very much blood has run, or other 
similar injuries, that a peace made by force last, since every day they 
together look themselves in the face; and it is difficult for them to abstain 
from injuring one another, since every day new causes of quarrel can arise 
among them through interchange. 2 

[2] Of this one cannot give a better example than the city of Pistoia. That 
city was divided fifteen years ago, as it is still, into Panciatichi and 
Cancellieri; but then it was up in arms and today it has laid them down. 3 
After many disputes among them, they came to bloodshed, to the ruin of 
houses, to plundering property from one another, and to every other 
extreme of enemies. The Florentines, who had to settle them, always used 
that third mode with them; and always greater tumults and greater scandals 
arose from it. So, worn out, they came to the second mode of removing the 
heads of the parties, of whom they put some in prison; some others they 
confined in various places so that the accord they made could remain, and it 
has remained until today. But without doubt the first [mode] would have 
been most secure. Because such executions have in them something of the 
great and the generous, however, a weak republic does not know how to do 


them and is so distant from them that it is led to the second remedy only 
with trouble. These are among the errors I told of at the beginning 4 that the 
princes of our times make who have to judge great things, for they ought to 
wish to hear how those who have had to judge such cases in antiquity 
governed themselves. But the weakness of men at present, caused by their 
weak education and their slight knowledge of things, makes them judge 
ancient judgments in part inhuman, in part impossible. They have certain 
modern opinions of theirs altogether distant from the true, as was that 
which the wise of our city used to say a while ago: that one needed to hold 
Pistoia with parties and Pisa with fortresses. 5 They do not perceive how 
both of these two things are useless. 

[3] I wish to omit fortresses because we speak of them above at length, 6 and 
I wish to discourse on the uselessness that derives from keeping the towns 
that you have to govern divided. First, it is impossible for you to maintain 
both these parties friendly to yourself, whether you govern them as prince or 
as republic. For it is given by nature to men to take sides in any divided 
thing whatever, and for this to please them more than that. So having one 
party of that town discontented makes you lose it in the first war that comes, 
for it is impossible to guard a city that has enemies outside and inside. If it 
is a republic that governs it, there is no finer mode of making your citizens 
wicked and of making your city divided than to have a divided city to 
govern; for each party seeks to have support, and each makes friends for 
itself with various corruptions. So two very great inconveniences arise from 
it: one, that you never make them friends to yourself through not being able 
to govern them well, since the government often varies, now with one, now 
with the other humor; the other, that such concern for party of necessity 
divides your republic. Biondo, speaking of the Florentines and the Pistoiese, 
vouches for it by saying. “While the Florentines planned to reunite Pistoia, 
they divided themselves.” 7 One can therefore easily consider the ill that 
arises from this division. 

[4] In 1502, when Arezzo was lost, and all the Val di Tevere and the Val di 
Chiana, seized from us by the Vitelli and by Duke Valentino, a Monsieur de 
Lant came, sent by the king of France to have all those lost towns restored 
to the Florentines. When Lant found men in every fortified town who, in 
visiting him, said that they were of the party of the Marzocco, he very much 
blamed this division, saying that if in France one of the subjects of the king 
should say he was of the party of the king, he would be punished, because 
such a word would signify nothing other than that in that town there were 


people unfriendly to the king; and that king wishes that all the town be his 
friends, united and without a party. 8 But all these modes and these opinions 
diverging from the truth arise from the weakness of whoever is lord, who, 
when they see that they cannot hold states with force and with virtue, turn 
to such devices, which sometimes in quiet times help somewhat; but when 
adversities and hard times come, they show their fallaciousness. 


#?28 n 

That One Should Be Mindful of the Works 
of Citizens Because Many Times 
underneath a Merciful Work a Beginning 
of Tyranny Is Concealed 

[1] When the city of Rome was overburdened with hunger, and public 
provisions were not enough to stop it, one Spurius Maelius, who was very 
rich for those times, had the intent to make provision of grain privately, and 
to feed the plebs with it, gaining its favor for him. Because of this affair he 
had such a crowd of people in his favor that the Senate, thinking of the 
inconvenience that could arise from that liberality of his, so as to crush it 
before it could pick up more strength, created a dictator over him and had 
him killed. 1 Here it is to be noted that many times works that appear 
merciful, which cannot reasonably be condemned, 2 become cruel and are 
very dangerous for a republic if they are not corrected in good time. And to 
discourse of this thing more particularly, I say that a republic without 
reputed citizens cannot stand, nor can it be governed well in any mode. On 
the other side, the reputation of citizens is the cause of the tyranny of 
republics. If one wishes to regulate this thing, one needs to order oneself so 
that the citizens are reputed for a reputation that helps and does not hurt the 
city and its freedom. So one ought to examine the modes with which they 
get reputation, which are in effect two: either public or private. The public 
modes are when one individual by counseling well, by working better in the 
common benefit, acquires reputation. One ought to open to citizens the way 
to this honor and to put up rewards both for counsel and for works so that 
they have to be honored and satisfied with them. If these reputations, gained 
by these ways, are clear and simple, they will never be dangerous; but when 
they are gained by private ways, which is the other mode cited before, they 
are very dangerous and altogether hurtful. The private ways are doing 
benefit to this and to that other private individual—by lending him money, 
marrying his daughters for him, defending him from the magistrates, and 


doing for him similar private favors that make men partisans to oneself and 
give spirit to whoever is so favored to be able to corrupt the public and to 
breach the laws. A well-ordered republic ought, therefore, to open the ways, 
as was said, to whoever seeks support 3 through public ways and close them 
to whoever seeks it through private ways, as one sees Rome did. For to 
reward whoever worked well for the public, it ordered triumphs and all the 
other honors that it gave to its citizens; and to harm whoever sought under 
various colors to make himself great by private ways it ordered accusations. 
And if these were not enough, because the people was blinded by a species 
of false good, it ordered [the creation of] the dictator, who with his kingly 
arm made whoever had gone out of bounds return within them, as it did by 
punishing Spurius Maelius. One of these things that may be left unpunished 
is capable of ruining a republic, for with that example it is only with 
difficulty later brought back on the true way. 


«29 M 

That the Sins of Peoples Arise from 


[1] Princes should not complain of any sin that the peoples whom they have 
to govern commit, for it must be that such sins arise either by his negligence 
or by his being stained with like errors. Whoever reviews 1 the peoples who 
in our times have been held full of robberies and of like sins will see that it 
has arisen entirely from those who governed them, who were of a like 
nature. Before those lords who commanded the Romagna were eliminated 
in it by Pope Alexander VI, it was an example of every most criminal life, 
because there one saw very great slaughter and pillage occur for every slight 
cause. That arose from the wickedness of those princes, not from the 
wicked nature of men, as they used to say. For since those princes were 
poor and wished to live like the rich, they were necessitated to turn to much 
pillaging and to use it in various modes. Among the other dishonest ways 
they held to, they would make laws and would prohibit some action; then 
they were the first who gave cause for their nonobservance; nor did they ever 
punish the nonobservers except later, when they saw very many to have 
incurred a like prejudice. Then they would turn to punishment, not out of 
zeal for the law that had been made but out of greed for collecting the 
penalty. Hence arose many inconveniences and above all this: that the 
peoples became impoverished and were not corrected; and those who were 
impoverished contrived to prevail against those less powerful than 
themselves. 2 Hence all those ills rose up that were told of above, the cause 
of which was the prince. That this is true Titus Livy shows when he narrates 
that as the Roman legates were carrying the booty of the Veientes to Apollo, 
they were taken by pirates of Lipari in Sicily and led to that town. When 
Timasitheus, their prince, learned what gift this was, where it was going, 
and who was sending it, though born at Lipari, he bore himself as a Roman 
man and showed the people how impious it was to seize a gift such as this. 
So with the consent of the collectivity, he let the legates go with all their 
things. The words of the historian are these: “Timasitheus filled the 


multitude, which is always like the ruler, with religion.” 3 And Lorenzo de’ 
Medici, in confirmation of this judgment, says: 

And that which the lord does, many do later; For all eyes are turned to the 
lord. 4 


«30 ft 

For One Citizen Who Wishes to Do Any 
Good Work in His Republic by His 
Authority, It Is Necessary First to 
Eliminate Envy; and How, on Seeing the 
Enemy, One Has to Order the Defense of a 


[1] When the Roman Senate learned that all Tuscany had made a new levy 
so as to come to do harm to Rome, and that the Latins and the Hernici, who 
in the past had been friends of the Roman people, had taken sides with the 
Volsci, perpetual enemies of Rome, it judged that this war must be 
dangerous. When Camillus found himself tribune with consular power, it 1 
thought that they could do without creating the dictator if the other 
tribunes, his colleagues, were willing to yield him the summit of command. 
The said tribunes did that voluntarily: “Nor did they believe (says Titus 
Livy) that anything they yielded to his majesty was taken away from their 
majesty.” 2 Hence Camillus, having taken this obedience at its word, 
commanded that three armies be enrolled. 3 He wished to be head of the 
first himself, so as to go against the Tuscans. He made Quintus Servilius the 
head of the second, which he wished to stay close to Rome, so as to oppose 
the Latins and the Hernici if they should move. He put Lucius Quintius in 
charge of the third army, which he enrolled so as to keep the city guarded 
and the gates and the court defended in every case that might arise. Besides 
this, he ordered that Horatius, one of his colleagues, provide the arms and 
the grain and the other things that times of war require. He put Cornelius, 
also his colleague, at the Senate and the public council, so that he might be 
able to counsel actions that they had to do and execute daily; so that the 
tribunes in those times were disposed to command and obey for the safety 
of the fatherland. By this text one notes what a good and wise man may do, 


and of how much good he may be the cause, and how useful he can be to his 
fatherland when by means of his goodness and virtue he has eliminated 
envy. That is many times the cause that men cannot work well, since the 
said envy does not permit them to have the authority that it is necessary to 
have in things of importance. This envy is eliminated in two modes: either 
through some strong and difficult accident in which each, seeing himself 
perishing, puts aside every ambition and runs voluntarily to obey him who 
he believes can free him with his virtue, as happened to Camillus. After he 
had given by himself so many samples of a most excellent man, and had 
been dictator three times, and had always administered in that rank for 
public usefulness and not for his own utility, he had made men not fear his 
greatness; and because he was so great and so reputed, they did not esteem 
it a shameful thing to be inferior to him (and so Titus Livy wisely says those 
words: “Nor did they . . . ”)• In another mode, envy is eliminated when, 
either by violence or by natural order, those who have been your 
competitors in coming to some reputation and to some greatness die. As 
they see you reputed more than they, it is impossible that they ever 
acquiesce and remain patient. When they are men who are used to living in 
a corrupt city, where the education has not produced any goodness in them, 
it is impossible that by any accident they ever gainsay themselves; and to 
obtain their wish and to satisfy their perversity of spirit, they would be 
content to see the ruin of their fatherland. To conquer this envy, there is no 
remedy other than the death of those who have it; and when fortune is so 
propitious to the virtuous man that they die ordinarily, he becomes glorious 
without scandal, when without obstacle and without offense he is able to 
show his virtue. But if he does not have this luck, he must think of every 
way of removing them from in front; and before he does anything, he needs 
to hold to the modes that overcome this difficulty. And whoever reads the 
Bible judiciously will see that since he wished his laws and his orders to go 
forward, Moses was forced to kill infinite men who, moved by nothing other 
than envy, were opposed to his plans. 4 Friar Girolamo Savonarola knew this 
necessity very well; Piero Soderini, gonfalonier of Florence, knew it too. 
The one was not able to conquer it because he did not have the authority to 
enable him to do it (that was the friar) and because he was not understood 
well by those who followed him, who would have had authority for it. Not 
therefore because of him did it remain undone, and his sermons are full of 
accusations of the wise of the world, and of invectives against them, for so 
he called the envious and those who were opposed to his orders. The other 
believed that with time, with goodness, with his fortune, with benefiting 


someone, he would eliminate this envy; seeing himself very young of age, 
and with so much new support that the mode of his proceeding brought 
him, he believed he could overcome as many as were opposed to him 
through envy without any scandal, violence, and tumult. He did not know 
that one cannot wait for the time, goodness is not enough, fortune varies, 
and malignity does not find a gift that appeases it. So both of these two were 
ruined, and their ruin was caused by not having known how or having been 
able to conquer this envy. 

[2] The other notable point is the order that Camillus gave inside and 
outside for the safety of Rome. And truly, not without cause do good 
historians, as is ours, put certain cases particularly and distinctly so that 
posterity may learn how they have to defend themselves in such accidents. 
One ought to note in this text that there is no more dangerous nor more 
useless defense than that which is done tumultuously and without order. 
This is shown through that third army that Camillus had enrolled so as to 
leave it in Rome as guard of the city. For many would have judged and 
would judge this part superfluous, since that people was in the ordinary 
course armed and warlike; and because of this, that it would not otherwise 
be needed to enroll them, but it would be enough to arm them when the 
need came. But Camillus, and whosoever might be wise as he was, judged it 
otherwise; for he never permitted a multitude to take up arms except with a 
certain order and a certain mode. So upon this example, one individual who 
is put in charge of the guard of a city ought to avoid like a reef having it 
arm the men tumultuously, but he ought first to have those enrolled and 
selected whom he wishes to be armed, whomever they have to obey, where 
to meet, where to go. Those who are not enrolled he ought to command to 
stay each in his house to guard it. Those who hold to this order in a city that 
has been assaulted can easily defend themselves; whoever does otherwise 
will not imitate Camillus and will not defend himself. 


«31 ft 

Strong Republics and Excellent Men 
Retain the Same Spirit and Their Same 
Dignity in Every Fortune 

[1] Among the other magnificent things that our historian makes Camillus 
say and do, so as to show how an excellent man ought to be made, he puts 
these words in his mouth: “Neither did the dictatorship ever raise my spirits 
nor did exile take them away.” 1 Through them one sees that great men are 
always the same in every fortune; and if it varies—now by exalting them, 
now by crushing them—they do not vary but always keep their spirit firm 
and joined with their mode of life so that one easily knows for each that 
fortune does not have power over them. Weak men govern themselves 
otherwise, because they grow vain and intoxicated in good fortune by 
attributing all the good they have to the virtue they have never known. 
Hence it arises that they become unendurable and hateful to all those whom 
they have around them. On that depends the sudden variation of fate; as 
they see it in the face, they fall suddenly into the other defect and become 
cowardly and abject. It arises from this that in adversities princes so made 
think more of fleeing than of defending themselves, as those who are 
unprepared for any defense because they have used good fortune badly. 

[2] The virtue and the vice that I say are to be found in one man alone are 
also found in a republic; and for example there are the Romans and the 
Venetians. As to the first, no bad fate ever made them become abject, nor 
did any good fortune ever make them insolent, as may be seen manifestly 
after the defeat they had at Cannae and after the victory they had against 
Antiochus. For they never grew cowardly because of the defeat even though 
it was very grave because it had been the third; 2 they sent out armies; they 
did not wish to ransom their prisoners against their orders; they did not send 
to Hannibal or to Carthage to ask for peace. But, leaving behind all these 
abject things, they thought always of war, arming the old and their slaves 
because of a scarcity of men. 3 When this thing became known by Hanno the 


Carthaginian, as was said above, 4 he showed to the Senate how little 
account was to be taken of the defeat of Cannae. 5 So one may see that 
difficult times did not terrify them nor render them humble. On the other 
hand, prosperous times did not make them insolent, for when Antiochus 
sent spokesmen to Scipio to ask for an accord before they came to battle 
and before he had lost, Scipio gave him certain conditions of peace, which 
were that he should retire inside Syria and leave the rest to the will of the 
Roman people. Antiochus, having refused that accord, came to battle and 
lost it, and sent back ambassadors to Scipio with the commission that they 
accept all the conditions that were given them by the conqueror, to which 
he did not propose another pact than what had been offered before he won, 
adding these words: “For the Romans are not weakened in spirits if they are 
conquered, nor are they accustomed to become insolent if they conquer.” 6 

[3] The exact contrary of this was seen to be done by the Venetians. In good 
fortune—since to them it appeared they had gained it with the virtue they 
did not have—they came to so much insolence that they called the king of 
France the son of San Marco; they did not esteem the church; they would 
not be contained in Italy in any mode; and they had disposed themselves in 
spirit to have a monarchy made like the Roman. Then, as good luck 
abandoned them and they had a half-defeat at Vaila from the king of 
France, they not only lost all their state by rebellion but gave a good part of 
it to the pope and to the king of Spain out of cowardice and abjectness of 
spirit. They grew so cowardly that they sent ambassadors to the emperor to 
make themselves his tributaries, and they wrote letters to the pope full of 
cowardice and submission so as to move him to compassion. They came to 
that unhappiness in four days, and after a half-defeat; for after their army 
had been in combat and was retiring, about half of it came into combat and 
was crushed, so that one of the superintendents who saved himself arrived 
at Verona with more than twenty-five thousand soldiers among those on foot 
and on horseback. 7 So if there had been any quality of virtue at Venice and 
in their orders, they could easily have remade themselves and showed their 
face to fortune anew, and they could have been in time either to conquer, or 
to lose most gloriously, or to have a very honorable accord. But the 
cowardice of their spirit, caused by the quality of their orders, which were 
not good in things of war, made them lose state and spirit in a stroke. And it 
will always happen thus to anyone whatsoever who governs himself like 
them. For becoming insolent in good fortune and abject in bad arises from 
your mode of proceeding and from the education in which you are raised. 


When that is weak and vain, it renders you like itself; when it has been 
otherwise, it renders you also of another fate; and by making you a better 
knower of the world, it makes you rejoice less in the good and be less 
aggrieved with the bad. What is said of one alone is said of many who live 
in one and the same republic: they are made to that perfection that its mode 
of life has. 

[4] Although it was said another time that the foundation of all states is a 
good military, and that where this does not exist there can be neither good 
laws nor any other good thing, it does not appear to me superfluous to 
repeat it. 8 For at every point in reading this history one sees this necessity 
appear; and one sees that the military cannot be good unless it is trained, 
and that it cannot be trained unless it is composed of your subjects. For one 
does not always remain at war, nor can one remain at it; so one must be 
able to train in time of peace, and with others than subjects one cannot do 
this training out of regard for the expense. When, as we said above, 9 
Camillus had come with his army against the Tuscans and his soldiers had 
seen the greatness of the enemy’s army, they were all frightened since it 
appeared to them that they were so inferior that they could not resist their 
thrust. When this bad disposition in the camp came to the ears of Camillus, 
he showed himself outside, and as he went through the camp speaking to 
these and those soldiers, he got this opinion out of their heads; and at last, 
without ordering the camp otherwise, he said: “What anyone has learned or 
is accustomed to, he will do.” 10 Whoever considers well this means, and the 
words he said to them so as to give them spirit to go against the enemy, will 
consider that he could neither have said nor have done any of those things 
to an army that had not first been ordered and trained both in peace and in 
war. For a captain cannot trust in those soldiers who have not learned to do 
anything, nor believe that they may do anything that is good; and if a new 
Hannibal commanded them, he would be ruined under them. For while the 
battle is on, a captain cannot be in every part. Unless he has first ordered it 
in every part so as to be able to have men who have his spirit, 11 and indeed 
the orders and modes of his proceeding, he must of necessity come to ruin. 
Thus, if a city is armed and ordered as was Rome, and every day it falls to 
its citizens, both in particular and in public, to make experiment both of 
their virtue and of the power of fortune, it will always happen that they are 
of the same spirit in every condition of time and will maintain their same 
dignity. But if they are unarmed and rely only on the thrust of fortune and 


not on their own virtue, they vary with its varying and they will always give 
an example of themselves such as the Venetians gave. 


*$32 ft 

What Modes Some Have Held to for 
Disturbing a Peace 

[1] When the Circeii 1 and the Velitrae, 2 two of its colonies, had rebelled 
from the Roman people in the hope of being defended by the Latins, and 
when the Latins later were defeated and that hope failed, very many citizens 
counseled that they ought to send spokesmen to Rome to recommend 
themselves to the Senate. That policy was disturbed by those who had been 
the authors of the rebellion, who feared that the entire penalty might come 
down on their heads. To take away every argument 3 for peace, they incited 
the multitude to arm itself and to overrun the Roman borders. And truly, 
when anyone wishes that either a people or a prince should altogether take 
away the spirit for an accord, there is no remedy more true or more stable 
than to make them use some grave criminality against the one with whom 
you do not wish the accord to be made. For the fear of that penalty which 
will appear deserved to him because of the error committed will always 
keep it at a distance. After the first war the Carthaginians had with the 
Romans, the soldiers who had been put to work in that war by the 
Carthaginians in Sicily and in Sardinia went to Africa when peace was 
made. There, not being satisfied with their pay, they turned their arms 
against the Carthaginians. When they had made two heads for themselves, 
Matho and Spendius, they seized many towns from the Carthaginians and 
sacked many of them. So as to try first every way other than fighting, the 
Carthaginians sent to them as ambassador their citizen Hasdrubal, 4 who 
they thought would have some authority with them since he had been their 
captain in the past. When he arrived, and Spendius and Matho wished to 
oblige all those soldiers not to hope ever again to have peace with the 
Carthaginians and through this to oblige them to war, they persuaded them 
that it was better to kill him, along with all the Carthaginian citizens who 
were their prisoners nearby. Hence not only did they kill them but they 
tormented them first with a thousand tortures, adding to this criminality an 
edict that all Carthaginians who might be taken in the future ought to be 


slain in a similar mode. That decision and execution made the army cruel 
and obstinate against the Carthaginians. 5 



If One Wishes to Win a Battle, It Is 
Necessary to Make the Army Confident 
Both among Themselves and in the 


[1] If one wishes an army to win a battle, it is necessary to make it 
confident so that it believes it ought to win in every mode. The things that 
make it confident are: that it be armed and ordered well, that [its members] 
know one another. Nor can this confidence or this order arise except in 
soldiers who have been born and have lived together. The captain must be 
esteemed of a quality that they trust in his prudence; and they will always 
trust if they see him ordered, solicitous, and spirited and if he holds up the 
majesty of his rank well and with reputation. He will always maintain it if 
he punishes them for errors and does not tire them in vain, observes 
promises to them, shows the easy way to winning, and conceals or makes 
light of things that at a distance could show up as dangers. Such things, well 
observed, are the great cause that the army trusts and, by trusting, wins. The 
Romans used to make their armies pick up this confidence by way of 
religion; hence it arose that with auguries and auspices they created consuls, 
made the conscription, left with the armies, and came to battle. Without 
having done any of these things, a good and wise captain would never have 
attempted any struggle, judging that he could easily have lost it if his 
soldiers had not first understood the gods to be on their side. If any consul 
or other captain of theirs had come to combat against the auspices, they 
would have punished him as they punished Claudius Pulcher. 1 Although this 
part is known in all the Roman histories, nonetheless it is proven more 
certainly by the words that Livy used in the mouth of Appius Claudius. 
When complaining to the people about the insolence of the tribunes of the 
plebs, and showing that by means of them the auspices and other things 
relating to religion were being corrupted, he says thus: “It is permitted for 
them now to make fun of religion. For what difference does it make if the 


chickens do not feed, if they come out of the cage slowly, if a bird sounds 
off? These are little things, but by not despising these little things, our 
ancestors made this republic the greatest.” 2 For in these little things is the 
force for holding the soldiers united and confident, which thing is the first 
cause of every victory. Nevertheless, virtue must accompany these things; 
otherwise they have no value. When they had their army out against the 
Romans, the Praenestines went to encamp on the river Allia, the place 
where the Romans had been conquered by the French. They did that so as to 
put confidence in their soldiers and to terrify the Romans by the fortune of 
the place. Although this policy of theirs was commendable for the reasons 
that were discoursed of above, nonetheless the end of the thing showed that 
true virtue does not fear every least accident. The historian says that very 
well with the words put in the mouth of the dictator, who speaks thus to his 
master of the horse: “Do you see that they, trusting in fortune, have taken a 
position at Allia; but you, trusting in arms and spirit, attack the middle of 
the line of battle?” 3 For a true virtue, a good order, a security taken from so 
many victories, cannot be eliminated with things of little moment, nor can 
a vain thing make them fear, nor a disorder offend them. This one sees 
certainly when two Manlii were consuls against the Volsci: because they had 
rashly sent part of the camp to plunder, it followed in time that both those 
who had gone and those who had remained found themselves besieged, 
from which danger not the prudence of the consuls but the virtue of the 
soldiers themselves freed them. Whereupon Titus Livy says these words: 
“The steady virtue of the soldiers even without a leader protected it.” 4 

[2] I do not wish to omit a means used by Fabius to make his army 
confident when he had newly entered into Tuscany with it, as he judged that 
such trust was necessary because he had led it into a new country against 
new enemies. So speaking to the soldiers before the fight, and having said 
that he had many reasons through which they could hope for victory, he said 
that he could also tell them certain good things, in which they would see 
victory was certain, if it were not dangerous to make them manifest. 5 As 
that mode was wisely used, so it deserves to be imitated. 


«34 M 

What Fame or Word or Opinion Makes the 
People Begin to Favor a Citizen; and 
Whether It Distributes Magistracies with 
Greater Prudence Than a Prince 

[1] Another time we have spoken of how Titus Manlius, who was later 
dubbed Torquatus, saved Lucius Manlius, his father, from an accusation 
that had been made against him by Marcus Pomponius, tribune of the 
plebs. 1 Although the mode of saving him was somewhat violent and 
extraordinary, nonetheless that filial piety toward his father was so 
gratifying to the collectivity that not only was he not reproved for it but, 
when they had to make tribunes of the legions, Titus Manlius was put in the 
second place. Because of that success, I believe it is good to consider the 
mode that the people holds to when judging men in its distributions, and 
because of what we see, whether it is true, as was concluded above, 2 that 
the people is a better distributor than a prince. 

[2] Thus I say that the people in its distributing goes by what is said of one 
individual through public word and fame when one does not otherwise 
know him through his known works, or through the presumption or opinion 
that one has of him. Those two things are caused either by the fact that the 
fathers of such have been great men and worthy in the city, and it is 
believed that their sons ought to be like them until by their works the 
contrary is understood; or it is caused by the modes held to by him of whom 
it is spoken. The best modes that can be held to are to keep company with 
grave men of good customs reputed wise by everyone. Because one can have 
no greater indication of a man than the company that he keeps, one 
individual who keeps honest company deservedly acquires a good name 
because it is impossible that he not have some similarity with it. Or truly 
this public fame is acquired by some extraordinary and notable action, even 
though private, which has resulted honorably for you. Of all these three 


things that in the beginning give good reputation to one individual, none 
gives it greater than this last. For the first one of relatives and fathers is so 
fallacious that men go to it slowly, and it is soon consumed when the virtue 
proper to him who has to be judged does not accompany it. The second, 
which makes you known by way of your practices, is better than the first but 
is much inferior to the third, for until some sign is seen that arises from you, 
your reputation remains founded on opinion, which it is very easy to cancel. 
But the third, having been begun and founded on fact and on your work, 
gives you so much name at the beginning that you indeed need to work 
many things contrary to this later if you wish to annul it. Thus men who are 
born in a republic ought to take this direction and contrive with some 
extraordinary works to begin to raise themselves up. Many in Rome did that 
in their youth, either by promulgating a law that went for the common 
utility, or by accusing some powerful citizen as a transgressor of the laws, or 
by doing such notable and new things of which one would have to speak. 
Nor are such things necessary only to begin to give oneself reputation, but 
they are also necessary to maintain it and increase it. If one wishes to do 
this, one needs to renew them, as did Titus Manlius for the whole time of 
his life; for after he had defended his father so virtuously and 
extraordinarily, and through this action had got his first reputation, in a few 
years he did combat with the Frenchman and, having killed him, took off 
from him that collar of gold that gave him the name of Torquatus. Nor was 
this enough, for later, by then of mature age, he killed his son for having 
engaged in combat without license, even though he had overcome the 
enemy. These three actions, then, gave him more name and made him more 
celebrated for all centuries than did any triumph and any other victory, for 
which he was decorated as much as any other Roman. 3 The cause is that in 
those victories Manlius had very many like him; in these particular actions 
he had either very few or no one. 

[3] To Scipio the Elder, all his triumphs did not bring so much glory as 
having defended his father on the Ticino while still a boy 4 and after the 
defeat at Cannae, when with drawn sword he spiritedly made many young 
Romans swear that they would not abandon Italy as they had already 
decided among themselves. 5 Those two actions were the beginning of his 
reputation and made a ladder for him to the triumphs of Spain and Africa. 
That opinion of him was further increased when he sent back the daughter 
to her father and the wife to her husband in Spain. 6 Not only is this mode of 
proceeding necessary to those citizens who wish to acquire fame so as to 


obtain honors in their republic, but it is also necessary to princes so as to 
maintain reputation for themselves in their principalities. For nothing 
makes them so much esteemed as to give rare examples of themselves with 
some rare act or saying conforming to the common good, which shows the 
lord either magnanimous, or liberal, or just, and is such as to become like a 
proverb among his subjects. 

[4] But to return to where we began this discourse, I say that when the 
people begins to give a rank to one of its citizens, founding itself on the 
three causes written above, it does not found itself badly. But later, when 
the very many examples of good behavior of one individual make him more 
known, it founds itself better, because in such a case it can almost never be 
deceived. I speak only of those ranks that are given to men in the beginning, 
before they are known through firm experience, or as they pass from one 
action to another unlike it, in which, both as to false opinion and as to 
corruption, [the people] will always make lesser errors than princes. 
Because it can be that peoples might deceive themselves about the fame, 
opinion, and work of a man, esteeming them greater than they are in truth 
—which would not happen to a prince because he would be told and 
warned by whoever counseled him—so that peoples too do not lack these 
assemblies, good orderers of republics have ordered that when they have to 
create the supreme ranks of the city, where it would be dangerous to put 
inadequate men, and when it is seen that the popular vogue is directed 
toward creating someone who might be inadequate, it is permitted to every 
citizen and is attributed to his glory to make public in councils the defect of 
that one, so that the people, not lacking knowledge of him, can judge better. 
That this was used in Rome the oration of Fabius Maximus gives testimony. 
He made it to the people during the Second Punic War, when in the 
creation of the consuls favor was turning toward creating Titus Ottacilius. 
Since Fabius judged him inadequate to govern the consulate in those times, 
he spoke against him, showing his inadequacy, so that he took away the rank 
from him and turned the favor of the people to whoever deserved it more 
than he. 7 Thus in the election of magistrates peoples judge according to the 
truest marks 8 that they can have of men; and when they can be counseled 
like princes, they err less than princes; and the citizen who wishes to begin 
to have the support 9 of the people ought to gain it for himself with some 
notable act, as did Titus Manlius. 



«35 ft 

What Dangers Are Borne in Making 
Oneself Head in Counseling a Thing; and 
the More It Has of the Extraordinary, the 
Greater Are the Dangers Incurred in It 

[1] How dangerous a thing it is to make oneself head of a new thing that 
pertains to many, and how difficult it is to treat it and to lead it and, when 
led, to maintain it, would be too long and too high a matter to discourse of. 
So, reserving it for a more convenient place, 1 I shall speak only of those 
dangers that citizens or those who counsel a prince bear in making oneself 
head of a grave and important decision, so that all the counsel of it may be 
attributed to him. For since men judge things by the end, all the ill that 
results from it is attributed to the author of the counsel; and if good results 
from it, he is commended for it, but the reward by far does not 
counterbalance the harm. When the present Sultan Selim, dubbed the 
Grand Turk, had prepared himself to make a campaign to Syria and Egypt 
(as report some who came from his countries), he was encouraged by one of 
his bashaws, whom he kept on the border of Persia, to go against the Sophy. 
Moved by that counsel, he went on that campaign with a very large army; 
and arriving in a very wide country, where there were very many deserts 
and few rivers, and finding those difficulties there that had already brought 
many Roman armies to ruin, he was crushed by them, so that he lost a great 
part of this troops through hunger and plague, even though he had been 
superior in the war. So, angered at the author of the counsel, he killed him. 2 
One reads that very many citizens have been encouragers of an enterprise 
and because it had a bad end were sent into exile. Some Roman citizens 
made themselves heads in making the plebeian consul in Rome. 3 It 
happened that the first who went out with his armies was defeated; hence 
some harm would have come to those counselors if the party in whose 
honor the decision had come had not been so rash. 4 


[2] Thus it is a very certain thing that those who counsel a republic and 
those who counsel a prince are placed in these straits: if they do not counsel 
without hesitation the things that appear to them useful—either for the city 
or for the prince—they fail in their office; if they do counsel them, they 
enter into danger of life and state, since all men are blind in this, in judging 
good and bad counsel by the end. Thinking over in what mode they can 
escape either this infamy or this danger, I do not see any other way for it 
but to take things moderately, and not to seize upon any of them for one’s 
own enterprise, and to give one’s opinion without passion and defend it 
without passion, with modesty, so that if the city or the prince follows it, it 
follows voluntarily, and it does not appear to enter upon it drawn by your 
importunity. When you do thus, it is not reasonable that a prince and a 
people wish you ill for your counsel, since it was not followed against the 
wish of many—for one bears danger where many have contradicted, who 
then at the unhappy end concur to bring you to ruin. And if in this case one 
lacks the glory that is acquired in being alone against many to counsel a 
thing when it has a good end, there are two goods in the comparison: first, 
in the lack of danger; second, that if you counsel a thing modestly, and 
because of the contradiction your counsel is not taken, and by the counsel of 
someone else some ruin follows, very great glory redounds to you. Although 
the glory that is acquired from ills that either your city or your prince has 
cannot be enjoyed, nonetheless it is to be held of some account. 

[3] I do not believe other counsel can be given to men in this part, for in 
counseling them to be silent and not to say their opinion, it would be a 
useless thing to the republic or to their prince, and they would not escape 
the danger; for in a short time they would become suspect. It could even 
happen to them as to those friends of Perseus, king of the Macedonians, to 
whom it befell that when he had been defeated by Paulus Aemilius and was 
fleeing with a few friends, one of them in talking over things past began to 
tell Perseus of the many errors made by him that had been the cause of his 
ruin. Turning to him, Perseus said, “Traitor, so you put off telling me it 
until now, when I have no further remedy!” Upon these words he killed him 
by his own hand. 5 So he bore the penalty of having been quiet when he 
ought to speak, and of having spoken when he ought to be silent; he did not 
escape the danger by not having given the counsel. So I believe the limits 
written above are to be held and observed. 



The Causes Why the French Have Been 
and Are Still Judged in Fights at the 
Beginning As More Than Men and Later 
As Less Than Women 

[1] The ferocity of that Frenchman who by the river Anio challenged any 
Roman to engage in combat with him, as well as the fighting between him 
and Titus Manlius, 1 remind me of what Titus Livy says several times: that 
the French are more than men at the beginning of the fight, and in the 
succeeding combat they come out less than women. 2 Thinking over whence 
this arises, it is believed by many that their nature is made so, which I 
believe is true; but because of this it is not that their nature, which makes 
them ferocious at the beginning, cannot be ordered with art so that it 
maintains them ferocious to the last. 

[2] Wishing to prove this, I say that there are armies of three types: one, 
where there is fury and order—because from order arises fury and virtue— 
as was that of the Romans. For one sees in all the histories that in that army 
there was a good order, which had brought military discipline to it for a 
long time. For in a well-ordered army no one ought to do any work if it is 
not regulated. Because of this, one will find that in the Roman army, which 
all other armies ought to take for example since it conquered the world, 
they did not eat, they did not sleep, they did not go whoring, they did not 
perform any action either military or domestic without the order of the 
consul. For those armies that do otherwise are not true armies, and if they 
produce any proof [to the contrary], they do it by fury and impetuosity, and 
not by virtue. But virtue, where ordered, uses its fury with modes and with 
the times; neither does any difficulty debase it nor make it lack spirit. For 
good orders refresh spirit and fury for them, nourished by the hope of 
conquering, which never fails as long as the orders remain steady. The 
contrary happens in those armies where there is fury and not order, as were 


the French, who yet failed in combat. For when they did not succeed in 
conquering with their first thrust, and when that fury in which they hoped 
was not sustained by an ordered virtue, they had nothing beyond it in which 
they might have confidence, and as that was cooled, they failed. 3 To the 
contrary, the Romans, fearing dangers less because of their good orders, not 
mistrusting in victory, would engage in combat firmly and obstinately with 
the same spirit and the same virtue at the end as at the beginning; indeed, 
stirred by arms, they would always become inflamed. The third kind of 
armies is where there is neither natural fury nor accidental order, as are the 
Italian armies of our times, which are altogether useless; and if they do not 
meet with an army that flees because of some accident, they will never 
conquer. Without bringing up other examples, one sees every day how they 
make proof of not having any virtue. Because everyone understands with 
the testimony of Titus Livy how a good military ought to be made, and how 
a bad one is made, I wish to bring up the words of Papirius Cursor, when he 
wished to punish Fabius, master of the horse, and he said: “No one would 
have deference for men, no one for the gods; neither the edicts of 
commanders nor the auspices would be observed; soldiers would wander 
without leave in peaceful and in hostile territory forgetful of oaths, they 
would discharge themselves by their license alone when they wanted; they 
would leave the standards deserted, nor would they assemble on command, 
nor would they distinguish day from night, favorable location or 
unfavorable; they would fight by or against the order of the commander, and 
not comply with standards, nor orders; in the mode of banditry the military 
would be blind and haphazard instead of solemn and consecrated.” 4 Thus by 
this text one can easily see whether the military of our times is blind and 
haphazard or consecrated and solemn, and how much it lacks to be like 
what could be called a military, and how far it is from being furious and 
ordered, like the Roman, or furious only, like the French. 



^37 ft 

Whether Small Battles Are Necessary 

before the Main Battle ; 1 and If One 
Wishes to Avoid Them, What One Ought to 
Do to Know a New Enemy 

[1] It appears that in the actions of men, as we have discoursed of another 
time, 2 besides the other difficulties in wishing to bring a thing to its 
perfection, one finds that close to the good there is always some evil that 
arises with that good so easily that it appears impossible to be able to miss 
the one if one wishes for the other. One sees this in all the things that men 
work on. So the good is acquired only with difficulty unless you are aided by 
fortune, so that with its force it conquers this ordinary and natural 
inconvenience. The fight between Manlius and the Frenchman has 
reminded me of this, where Titus Livy says: “This combat was of so much 
moment to the event of the whole war that the army of the Gauls having left 
its camp in panic, crossed over into the country of Tibur and then into 
Campania.” 3 For I consider, on one side, that a good captain ought 
altogether to avoid working for anything that is of small moment and can 
produce bad effects on his army: for to begin a fight in which all one’s forces 
are not at work and all one’s fortune is risked is a thing altogether rash, as I 
said above, when I condemned the guarding of passes. 4 

[2] On the other side, I consider that when wise captains come up against a 
new enemy who is reputed, before they come to the main battle they are 
necessitated to make trial of such enemies with light fighting for their 
soldiers, so that by beginning to know and manage them they lose the terror 
that fame and reputation have given them. This part is very important in a 
captain, because it has within it almost a necessity that constrains you to do 
it, when you appear to be going to a manifest loss without first having taken 
away from your soldiers, by little experiences, the terror that the reputation 
of the enemy had put in their spirits. 


[3] Valerius Corvinus was sent by the Romans with their armies against the 
Samnites, new enemies who in the past had never made trial of arms, one 
with the other. Here Titus Livy says that Valerius had the Romans engage in 
some light fighting with the Samnites, “lest a new war and a new enemy 
terrify them.” 5 Nonetheless, it is a very grave danger lest when your soldiers 
are left conquered in those battles, their fear and cowardice grow and effects 
contrary to your plans follow from them; that is, that having planned to 
make them secure, you terrify them. So this is one of those things that have 
the evil so close to the good, and so much are they joined together that it is 
an easy thing to take one, believing one has picked the other. I say on this 
that a good captain ought to observe with all diligence lest something 
emerge that through some accident can take away spirit from his army. 
That which can take away spirit is to begin to lose; and so one ought to 
guard oneself against small lights and not permit them unless with a very 
great advantage and with hope of certain victory. One ought not to 
undertake enterprises of guarding passes, where one cannot hold all one’s 
army; one ought not to guard towns except those where one’s ruin would 
follow of necessity if they were lost. Those that one guards ought to be 
ordered, both with the guards and with the army, so that when it becomes a 
question of their capture, one can put to work all one’s forces; the others 
one ought to leave undefended. For every time that one loses a thing that 
one abandons, and the army is still together, one does not lose reputation in 
the war nor the hope of winning it. But when a thing is lost that you had 
planned to defend, and everyone believes you will defend it, then is the 
harm and the loss; and like the French, you have almost lost the war with a 
thing of small moment. 

[4] When Philip of Macedon, father of Perseus, a military man of great 
standing in his times, was assaulted by the Romans, he abandoned and 
despoiled very many of his countries, which he judged he could not guard. 
He was one who, because he was prudent, judged it more pernicious to lose 
reputation by not being able to defend what he had set out to defend than to 
lose it as a thing neglected by leaving it in the prey of the enemy. 6 When 
their affairs were in distress after the defeat at Cannae, the Romans denied 
aid to many of their clients and subjects, committing them to defend 
themselves the best they could. 7 These policies are very much better than to 
undertake defenses and then not defend them, for in this policy one loses 
friends and forces; in the former, friends only. But returning to small fights, 
I say that if indeed a captain is constrained by the newness of the enemy to 


do some fighting, he ought to do it so much to his advantage that there is no 
danger of losing it; or truly he ought to do as Marius did (which is a better 
policy). He was going against the Cimbri, very ferocious people who came 
to plunder Italy and were coming with a great fright because of their 
ferocity and multitude; and because they had already conquered a Roman 
army, Marius judged it was necessary, before he came to fighting, to work 
something by which the army would give up the terror that fear of the 
enemy had given them; and as a very prudent captain, he gathered his army 
more than one time in a place where the Cimbri would be passing with 
their army. And so he wished his soldiers to see and to accustom their eyes 
to the sight of that enemy from inside the fortresses of his camp, so that 
when they saw a disordered multitude, full of baggage, with useless arms 
and in part unarmed, they would be reassured and would become desirous 
of fighting. 8 As that policy was wisely taken by Marius, so it ought to be 
diligently imitated by others so as not to incur those dangers I told of above, 
and not to have to do as the French, “who, frightened by a thing of small 
importance, retired into the fields of Tibur and into Campania.” 9 And 
because we have cited Valerius Corvinus in this discourse, I wish to 
demonstrate by means of his words, in the following chapter, how a captain 
ought to be made. 



How a Captain in Whom His Army Can 
Have Confidence Ought to Be Made 

[1] Valerius Corvinus, as we said above, 1 was with the army against the 
Samnites, new enemies of the Roman people; hence, to make his soldiers 
secure and to get them to know the enemy, he had his own men do certain 
light fighting. And since this was not enough for him, he wished to speak to 
them before the battle, and he showed with all efficacy how little they ought 
to esteem such enemies, pleading the virtue of his soldiers, and his own. 
Here one can note how a captain in whom the army has to have confidence 
ought to be made, by the words that Livy makes him say, which words are 
these: “Then also they should consider under whose leadership and auspices 
they would have to fight, whether he was one to be listened to only as a 
magnificent orator, ferocious only in words, inexpert in military operations, 
or one who himself knew how to handle weapons, to advance ahead of the 
standards, to be engaged in the midst and in the effort of fighting. Soldiers, I 
want you to follow my deeds, not my words; to seek from me not only 
discipline but also example, who have won for myself with this right hand 
three consulates and the highest praise.” 2 These words, considered well, 
teach to anyone whatever how he ought to proceed if he wishes to hold the 
rank of captain; and one who has done otherwise will find in time that 
whether he was led to the rank by fortune or by ambition, it will be taken 
from him and will not give him reputation, for titles do not give luster to 
men, but men to titles. One ought also to consider from the beginning of 
this discourse that if great captains have used extraordinary extremes to 
firm the spirits of a veteran army when it must confront unaccustomed 
enemies, how much more greatly one has to use industry when one 
commands a new army that has never seen the enemy in the face. For if the 
unaccustomed enemy gives terror to the old army, so much more greatly 
must every enemy give it to a new army. Yet many times these difficulties 
have been seen to be conquered by good captains with the highest prudence, 
as did Gracchus the Roman and Epaminondas the Theban, of whom we 


have spoken another time, 3 who with new armies conquered armies that 
were veteran and very much trained. 

[2] The modes they kept to were to train them for several months in mock 
battles and to accustom them to obedience and order; then, after those, they 
put them to work with the greatest confidence in true fighting. Thus one 
ought not to lack confidence that any military man can make good armies if 
men are not lacking him; for that prince who has plenty of men and lacks 
soldiers ought to complain not of the cowardice of the men but only of his 
laziness and lack of prudence. 4 


«39 M 

That a Captain Ought to Be a Knower of 


[1] Among the other things that are necessary to a captain of armies is the 
knowledge of sites and of countries, for without this general and particular 
knowledge a captain of armies cannot work anything well. Because all the 
sciences demand practice if one wishes to possess them perfectly, this is one 
that requires very great practice. This practice, or truly this particular 
knowledge, is acquired more through hunts than by any other training. So 
the ancient writers say that the heroes who governed the world in their time 
were nourished in the woods and by hunts, for besides this knowledge, 
hunting teaches infinite things that are necessary in war. In the life of Cyrus, 
Xenophon shows that when Cyrus was going to assault the king of Armenia, 
in devising that struggle he reminded his men that this was none other than 
one of those hunts that they had often undertaken with him. He reminded 
those whom he sent in ambush on top of mountains that they were like 
those who went to hold the nets on the ridges, and those who rode the plains 
that they were like those who went to flush the beast from the cover so that 
when hunted it would trip into the nets. 1 

[2] This is said to show that hunts, as Xenophon gives proof, are an image 
of a war; and because of this, such training is honorable and necessary to 
great men. One also cannot learn the knowledge of countries in any other 
advantageous mode than by way of hunting; for hunting, to one who uses it, 
makes one know the particular lay of that country in which he trains. Once 
one individual has made himself very familiar with a region, he then 
understands with ease all new countries; for every country and every 
member of the latter have some conformity together, so that one passes 
easily from the knowledge of one to the knowledge of the other. But 
whoever has not well practiced one of them can only with difficulty— 
indeed never, unless after a long time—know the other. Whoever has this 
practice knows with one glance of his eye how that plain lies, how that 
mountain rises, where this valley reaches, and all other such things of which 


he has in the past made a firm science. That this is true Titus Livy shows 
with the example of Publius Decius, when he was tribune of the soldiers in 
the army that Cornelius the consul led against the Samnites; and as the 
consul retired into a valley where the army of the Romans could be enclosed 
by the Samnites, and seeing himself in so much danger, he said to the 
consul, “Do you see, Aulus Cornelius, that peak above the enemy? That is 
the citadel of our hope and salvation if (because the blind Samnites have 
left it) we take it quickly.” And before these words said by Decius, Titus 
Livy says, “Publius Decius, tribune of the soldiers, spotted a single hill rising 
in the pass, overhanging the enemy’s camp, of arduous approach to an army 
with baggage, hardly difficult to those lightly equipped.” Hence, after he had 
been sent up it with three thousand soldiers by the consul and had saved the 
Roman army, and as he was planning to leave when night came and to save 
himself and his soldiers too, he has him say these words: “Go with me so 
that while some fight remains we may find out the places where the enemy 
have posted their guards and where the way out from here lies open. 
Wrapped in a military cloak so that the enemy would not notice the leader 
going about, he surveyed all these things.” 2 Thus whoever considers all this 
text will see how useful and necessary it is for a captain to know the nature 
of countries. For if Decius had not understood and known them, he could 
not have judged how useful it would be to the Roman army to take that hill, 
nor could he have known from afar whether the hill was accessible or not; 
and when he had then gone to the top of it and wished to leave so as to 
return to the consul, with the enemy around, he would not have been able 
from afar to take sight of the ways to get away and the places guarded by 
enemies. So it was of necessity fitting that Decius had such knowledge 
perfected, which made him save the Roman army by taking that hill. Then, 
when besieged, he knew how to find the way to save himself and those who 
were with him. 


*• 40 -k 

That to Use Fraud in Managing War Is a 

Glorious Thing 

[1] Although the use of fraud in every action is detestable, nonetheless in 
managing war it is a praiseworthy and glorious thing, and he who 
overcomes the enemy with fraud is praised as much as the one who 
overcomes it with force. One sees this by the judgment those make of it 
who write the lives of great men, who praise Hannibal and others who were 
very notable in such modes of proceeding. Of the very many examples of 
that to be read I shall not repeat any. I shall say only this: that I do not 
understand that fraud to be glorious which makes you break faith given and 
pacts made; for although this may at some time acquire state and kingdom 
for you, as is discoursed of above, 1 it will never acquire glory for you. But I 
speak of the fraud that is used with the enemy who does not trust in you and 
that properly consists in managing war, as was that of Hannibal when at the 
lake of Perugia 2 he simulated flight so as to enclose the consul and the 
Roman army, and when he lit up the horns of his herd to escape the hands 
of Fabius Maximus. 3 

[2] Like such frauds was the one that Pontius, captain of the Samnites, used 
to enclose the Roman army within the Caudine Forks. 4 Having put his army 
close to the mountains, he sent more of his soldiers in shepherds’ clothing 
with a very large herd to the plain. When they were taken by the Romans 
and asked where the Samnites’ army was, they all agreed, according to the 
order given by Pontius, to say that it was at the siege of Nocera. 5 That thing, 
believed by the consuls, made them trap themselves within the Caudine 
cliffs, where, after they entered, they were at once besieged by the Samnites. 
This victory, had through fraud, would have been very glorious for Pontius 
if he had followed the counsels of his father, who wished the Romans either 
to save themselves freely or all be killed, and not to take the middle way, 
“which neither provides friends nor removes enemies.” 6 That way was 


always pernicious in things of state, as was discoursed of above in another 
place. 7 


41 ft 

That the Fatherland Ought to Be 
Defended, Whether with Ignominy or with 
Glory; and It Is Well Defended in Any 

Mode Whatever 

[1] As was said above, 1 the consul and the Roman army were besieged by 
the Samnites, who had set very ignominious conditions on the Romans 
(which were: wishing to put them under the yoke and sending them back to 
Rome disarmed), and because of this the consuls were as though dazed, and 
all the army in despair. Lucius Lentulus, the Roman legate, said that it did 
not appear to him that any policy whatever for saving the fatherland was to 
be avoided; for since the life of Rome consisted in the life of that army, it 
appeared to him it was to be saved in every mode, and that the fatherland is 
well defended in whatever mode one defends it, whether with ignominy or 
with glory. For if that army saved itself, Rome would have time to cancel 
the ignominy; if it did not save itself, even though it died gloriously, Rome 
and its freedom were lost. And so his counsel was followed. 2 That advice 
deserves to be noted and observed by any citizen who finds himself 
counseling his fatherland, for where one deliberates entirely on the safety of 
his fatherland, there ought not to enter any consideration of either just or 
unjust, merciful or cruel, praiseworthy or ignominious; indeed every other 
concern 3 put aside, one ought to follow entirely the policy that saves its life 
and maintains its liberty. That is imitated by the sayings and deeds of the 
French so as to defend the majesty of their king and the power of their 
kingdom, for they hear no voice more impatiently than that which would 
say: such a policy is ignominious for the king. For they say that their king 
cannot suffer shame in any decision whatever of his, whether in good or in 
adverse fortune, because whether he loses or wins, all—they say—are the 
king’s affairs. 


«42 M 

That Promises Made through Force Ought 

Not to Be Observed 

[2] When the consuls returned to Rome with the army disarmed and the 
ignominy they received, the first to say in the Senate that the peace made at 
Caudium ought not to be observed was the consul Spurius Postumius. He 
said that the Roman people was not obligated, but that he and the others 
who had promised the peace were indeed obligated; and so if the people 
wished to free itself from every obligation, it had to give him and all the 
others who had promised it into the hands of the Samnites as prisoners. He 
held to this conclusion with so much obstinacy that the Senate was content 
with it, and sending him and the others to Samnium as prisoners, they 
protested to the Samnites that the peace was not valid. So favorable was 
fortune in this case to Postumius that the Samnites did not detain him, and 
when he returned to Rome, Postumius was more glorious with the Romans 
for having lost than was Pontius with the Samnites for having won. 1 Here 
two things are to be noted: one, that glory can be acquired in any action 
whatever, because in victory it is acquired ordinarily; in loss, it is acquired 
either by showing that such a loss did not come by your fault or through 
doing at once some virtuous action that cancels it. The other is that it is not 
shameful not to observe the promises that you have been made to promise 
by force; and when the force is lacking, forced promises that regard the 
public will always be broken and it will be without shame for whoever 
breaks them. Various examples of this are read in all the histories; and every 
day in present times they are seen. Not only are forced promises not 
observed among princes, when the force is lacking, but all other promises 
are also not observed when the causes that made them promise are lacking. 
Whether this is a praiseworthy thing or not, or whether like modes ought to 
be observed by a prince or not, is disputed by us at length in our treatise Of 
the Prince , 2 so for the present we shall be silent about it. 


^43 & 

That Men Who Are Born in One Province 
Observe Almost the Same Nature for All 


[1] Prudent men are accustomed to say, and not by chance or without 
merit, that whoever wishes to see what has to be considers what has been; 
for all worldly things in every time have their own counterpart in ancient 
times. That arises because these are the work of men, who have and always 
had the same passions, and they must of necessity result in the same effect. 
It is true that their works are more virtuous now in this province than in 
that, and in that more than in this, according to the form of education in 
which those people have taken their mode of life. To see a nation keep the 
same customs for a long time, being either continually avaricious or 
continually fraudulent or having some other such vice or virtue, also makes 
it easy to know future things by past. Whoever reads of things past in our 
city of Florence and considers also those that have occurred in the nearest 
times will find German and French peoples full of avarice, pride, ferocity, 
and faithlessness, for all those four things have much offended our city in 
diverse times. As to lack of faith, everyone knows how often money was 
given to King Charles VIII, and he would promise to give over the fortress 
of Pisa, and never gave it over. 1 In that the king showed a lack of faith and 
his very great avarice. But let us let these fresh things go. Everyone can 
understand what happened in the war that the Florentine people made 
against the Visconti dukes of Milan when Florence, deprived of other 
expedients, thought to bring the emperor into Italy to assault Lombardy 
with his reputation and forces. The emperor promised to come with very 
many troops, and to carry on that war against the Visconti, and to defend 
Florence from their power if the Florentines gave him a hundred thousand 
ducats to get started and a hundred thousand after he was in Italy. The 
Florentines consented to these pacts, and after they had paid him the first 
money and then the second, when he reached Verona he turned around 


without doing 2 anything, asserting 3 he had been held back by those who had 
not observed the agreements among them. 4 So, if Florence had not been 
either constrained by necessity or overcome by passion, and had read and 
known the ancient customs of the barbarians, it would not have been 
deceived either this or many other times by them, as they have always been 
in one mode and have used the same means in every part and with everyone. 
One sees that they did so in antiquity to the Tuscans, who, being pressed by 
the Romans because they had many times been put to flight and defeated by 
them, and seeing that they could not resist their thrust by means of their 
own forces, agreed with the French who inhabited Italy on this side of the 
Alps to give them a sum of money so that they would be obliged to join 
armies with them and go against the Romans. Hence it followed that the 
French, having taken the money, did not wish then to take up arms for 
them, saying that they had accepted it not to make war with their enemies 
but so that they would abstain from plundering the Tuscan country. And so 
through the avarice and lack of faith of the French, the Tuscan peoples were 
left deprived at a stroke of their money and of the aid that they hoped for 
from them. 5 So one sees by this example of the ancient Tuscans and by that 
of the Florentines that the French have used the same means; and because 
of this, one can easily conjecture how much princes can trust in them. 


*• 44 * 

One Often Obtains with Impetuosity and 
Audacity What One Would Never Have 
Obtained through Ordinary Modes 

[1] When the Samnites were being assaulted by the army of Rome, and 
were unable with their army to stand up to the Romans in the field, they 
decided to leave their towns in Samnium guarded and to pass with their 
entire army into Tuscany, which was in truce with the Romans, and to see 
by such passing if they could induce the Tuscans by the presence of their 
army to take up arms again, which they had refused to their ambassadors. In 
the speaking that the Samnites did to the Tuscans, and especially in showing 
what cause had induced them to take up arms, they used a notable term 
when they said “they had rebelled because peace was harsher for slaves than 
was war for the free.” 1 And so, partly with persuasions, partly by the 
presence of their army, they induced them to take up arms again. Here it is 
to be noted that when one prince desires to obtain a thing from another 
individual, if the opportunity allows he ought not to give him space to 
deliberate, and ought to act so that he sees the necessity of a quick decision, 
which is when he who is asked sees that from refusing or delaying arises a 
sudden dangerous indignation. 

[2] This means has been seen to be well used in our times by Pope Julius 
with the French and by Monsieur de Foix, captain of the king of France, 
with the marquis of Mantua. For wishing to expel the Bentivogli from 
Bologna, Pope Julius judged that for this he had need of French forces and 
Venetian neutrality. 2 When he had inquired of both and received doubtful 
and shifty replies, he decided to make them both come along with his 
judgment by not giving them time; and departing from Rome with as many 
troops as he could gather, he went toward Bologna. He sent to tell the 
Venetians to remain neutral and to the king of France to send forces. So, 
since all were left constrained by the small space of time, and they saw that 
manifest indignation must arise in the pope if they delayed or refused, they 


yielded to his wishes; and the king sent aid to him and the Venetians stayed 

[3] Also, Monsieur de Foix, who was with the army in Bologna and had 
learned of the rebellion of Brescia, and wished to go for its recapture, had 
two ways: one through the dominion of the king, long and tedious; the other 
short, through the dominion of Mantua. Not only was he necessitated to 
pass through the dominion of that marquis, but he had to enter through 
certain enclosures between swamps and lakes, of which that region is full, 
which were locked and guarded from him with fortresses and other modes. 
Hence, having decided to go by the shorter way, and so as to conquer every 
difficulty and not to give time to the marquis to deliberate, de Foix at a 
stroke moved his troops by that way and notified him to send the keys to that 
passage. So the marquis, taken aback by this sudden decision, sent him the 
keys, which he would never have sent if de Foix had conducted himself 
more fearfully, since that marquis was in league with the pope and with the 
Venetians and had one of his sons in the hands of the pope, things that gave 
him many honest excuses for refusing them. But assaulted by the sudden 
policy, he yielded them for the causes that are told above. 3 So did the 
Tuscans with the Samnites, because of the presence of the army of 
Samnium, when they took the arms that they had refused to take up at other 


«45 a 

What the Better Policy Is in Battles, to 
Resist the Thrust of Enemies and, Having 
Resisted It, to Charge Them; or Indeed to 
Assault Them with Fury from the First 

[1] Decius and Fabius were the Roman consuls with two armies confronting 
the armies of the Samnites and the Tuscans; and since they came to the fight 
and to the battle together, it is to be noted which of the two diverse modes 
of proceeding held to by the two consuls in that struggle is better. 1 For 
Decius assaulted the enemy with every thrust and with every force of his; 
Fabius only resisted it, judging a slow assault to be more useful, reserving 
his thrust to the last, when the enemy had lost its first ardor for combat and, 
as we say, its wind. Here one sees by the success of the affair that the plan 
came out much better for Fabius than for Decius, who exhausted himself in 
his first thrusts, so that seeing his band of men rather turned around than 
otherwise, he sacrificed himself to the Roman legions in imitation of his 
father, so as to acquire with death the glory he had been unable to attain 
with victory. When Fabius learned of this thing, so as not to acquire less 
honor by living than his colleague had acquired by dying, he pushed on all 
the forces he had reserved for such a necessity; hence he carried off a very 
happy victory. Hence one sees that Fabius’s mode of proceeding is more 
secure and more to be imitated. 


*• 46 * 

Whence It Arises That One Family in One 
City Keeps the Same Customs for a Time 

[1] It appears that not only does one city have certain modes and 
institutions diverse from another, and procreates men either harder or more 
effeminate, but in the same city one sees such a difference to exist from one 
family to another. That is attested to be true in every city, and in the city of 
Rome very many examples are read of. For one sees that the Manlii were 
hard and obstinate, the Publicoli kind men and lovers of the people, the 
Appii ambitious and enemies of the plebs; and so, many other families had 
each of them its qualities separate from those of others. These things cannot 
arise solely from the bloodline, because that must vary through the diversity 
of marriages, but it necessarily comes from the diverse education of one 
family from another. For it is very important that a boy of tender years 
begin to hear good or bad said of a thing, for it must of necessity make an 
impression on him, which afterward regulates the mode of proceeding in all 
the times of his life. If this had not been, it would be impossible for all the 
Appii to have had the same wish and to be agitated by the same passions, as 
Titus Livy notes of many of them. 1 And last, after one of them had been 
made censor, and his colleague had laid down the magistracy at the end of 
eighteen months, as the law disposed, Appius did not wish to relinquish it, 
saying that he could hold it for five years according to the first law ordered 
for censors. Although very many assemblies were held over this, and very 
many tumults generated, yet there was never any remedy by which he would 
relinquish it, though he was against the will of the people and of the greater 
part of the Senate. Whoever reads the oration he made against Publius 
Sempronius, tribune of the plebs, will note there all the Appian insolence 
and all the goodness and humanity used by infinite citizens so as to obey the 
laws and the auspices of their fatherland. 



«47 M 

That a Good Citizen Ought to Forget 
Private Injuries for Love of His Fatherland 

[1] Marcius the consul was with the army against the Samnites, and when 
he had been wounded in a fight, and because of this was putting his troops 
in danger, the Senate judged it necessary to send Papirius Cursor the 
dictator there to supply the defects of the consul. Since it was necessary that 
the dictator be named by Fabius, who was consul with the armies in 
Tuscany, and they feared that he would not wish to name him because he 
was his enemy, the senators sent two ambassadors to beg him that, private 
hatreds aside, he ought to name him for the public benefit. Fabius did that, 
moved by charity for his fatherland, even though by being silent and in many 
other modes he gave sign that such a nomination grieved him. 1 From that, 
all those who seek to be held good citizens ought to take example. 


«48 M 

When One Sees a Great Error Made by an 
Enemy, One Ought to Believe That There 
Is a Deception Underneath 

[1] When Fulvius the legate was left with the army that the Romans had in 
Tuscany, the consul having gone to Rome for some ceremonies, the 
Tuscans, to see if they could catch him in a trap, placed an ambush near the 
Roman camps and sent some soldiers in shepherds’ dress with a very large 
herd and had them come within sight of the Roman army. So disguised, 
they approached the wall of the camp; hence the legate, marveling at their 
presumption since it did not appear reasonable to him, followed a mode by 
which he exposed the fraud. So the plan of the Tuscans was defeated. 1 Here 
one can advantageously note that a captain of armies ought not to put faith 
in an error that the enemy is evidently seen to make, for fraud will always be 
underneath it, as it is not reasonable that men be so incautious. But often 
the desire to conquer blinds the spirits of men, who do not see but what 
appears to be done for them. 

[2] When the French had conquered the Romans at the Allia, and come to 
Rome and found the gates open and without guard, they stood all that day 
and night without entering, fearing fraud and unable to believe that there 
was so much cowardice and so little counsel in Roman breasts that they 
would abandon the fatherland. 2 When in 1508 the Florentines were 
encamped before Pisa, Alfonso del Mutolo, a Pisan citizen, found himself a 
prisoner of the Florentines; and he promised that if he were free he would 
deliver a gate of Pisa to the Florentine army. He was freed; then, to 
accomplish the thing, he came often to speak with the legates of the 
commissioners. He would come not concealed but openly and accompanied 
by Pisans, whom he left aside when he spoke with the Florentines. So one 
could have conjectured his double intent because it was not reasonable, if 
his conduct had been faithful, that he would have dealt so openly. But the 
desire they had to have Pisa blinded the Florentines, so that when led 


according to his order to the Lucca gate, they left many of their heads and 
other troops there to their dishonor, because of the double dealing done by 
the said Alfonso. 3 

*• 49 * 

A Republic Has Need of New Acts of 
Foresight Every Day If One Wishes to 
Maintain It Free; and for What Merits 
Quintus Fabius Was Called Maximus 

[1] It is of necessity, as was said other times, 1 that in a great city accidents 
arise every day that have need of a physician, and according to their 
importance, one must find a wiser physician. If such accidents ever arose in 
any city, they arose in Rome, ones both strange and unhoped for, as when it 
appeared that all the Roman women had conspired against their husbands to 
kill them—so many were found who had poisoned them, and so many who 
had prepared the poison to poison them. 2 So also was the conspiracy of the 
Bacchanals that was exposed at the time of the Macedonian War, in which 
many thousands of men and women were actually involved. 3 If that had not 
been exposed, it would have been dangerous for that city, if indeed the 
Romans had not been accustomed to punish multitudes of the erring. For if 
the greatness of that republic and the power of its executions had not been 
seen by infinite other signs, it is seen through the kinds of penalty that it 
imposed on whoever erred. Nor did it hesitate to have killed by way of 
justice an entire legion at once, and a city, and to banish eight or ten 
thousand men under extraordinary conditions as would not be observed by 
one alone, much less by many, as happened to those soldiers who had 
engaged in combat unhappily at Cannae. It banished them to Sicily and 
imposed on them that they not lodge in the town, and that they eat standing 



[2] But of all other executions, decimating the armies was [most] terrible, 
in which by lot, out of the whole army, one individual of every ten was put 
to death. Nor in punishing a multitude could one find a more frightening 
punishment than this. For when a multitude errs and the author is not 
certain, all cannot be punished because they are too many; to punish a part 


of them and leave a part of them unpunished would do wrong to those who 
are punished, and the unpunished would have spirit to err another time. But 
if the tenth part of them is killed by lot when all deserve it, whoever is 
punished grieves for his lot and whoever is not punished fears lest another 
time it touch him, and guards himself against erring. 5 

[3] Thus were punished the poisoners and the Bacchanals as their sins 
deserved. Although these diseases produce bad effects in a republic, they are 
not fatal because there is almost always time to correct them, but there is 
actually no time in those that regard the state, which ruin the city if they are 
not corrected by a prudent individual. 

[4] Because of the liberality that the Romans practiced in giving 
citizenship 6 to foreigners, so many new men were born in Rome that they 
began to have so much share in the votes that the government began to vary, 
and it departed from the things and from the men with which it was 
accustomed to go. When Quintus Fabius, who was censor, perceived this, he 
put all these new men from whom this disorder derived under four tribes, so 
that by being shut in such small spaces they could not corrupt all Rome. This 
affair was well understood by Fabius, and he applied a convenient remedy 
without an alteration; it was so well received by the citizenry 7 that he 
deserved to be called Maximus. 8 



English terms appearing in the translation are in boldface, followed by the Italian or Latin terms they 
translate in italics and the listing of their occurrences by book, chapter, and paragraph number 
(except when the chapter has only one paragraph). Certain abbreviations are slightly different from 
those used in the introduction and the notes to the text: DL refers to the dedicatory letter, Pr to the 
prefaces, and T to a chapter title. A parenthetical number followed by a multiplication cross (x) 
indicates multiple occurrences. (L) indicates a Latin word. Negatives and other words with prefixes 
are listed with their root words. Indicators of parts of speech (n. for noun, v. for verb, adj. for 
adjective) are given only where the English terms are identical. See also refers to another English temi 
used to translate that Italian term; cf refers to an etymologically or conceptually related term. 

An asterisk next to an English or Italian term indicates that not all occurrences of that term are listed 
in the glossary; all occurrences are given for other listed English terms (when they translate Italian, 
not necessarily Latin) and for listed Italian terms (though it may be necessary to consult the entries 
cross-referenced under See also to locate ah occurrences of a listed Italian term). Occurrences of 
English terms when they translate Latin are usually given only when the Latin terms are cognates of 
the Italian term translated. The glossary does not include words inserted in the translation in brackets 
for clarification. 

abject, abietta, I 49.2, III 6.2, III 31.1, III 31.2 (2x), III 31.3; abjectness, abiezione, II 2.2, III 31.3 
absolute, assoluto, I 9.2,1 25,1 35,1 40.3,1 55.4, III 26.2 
absolve, assolvere, I 5.4,1 8.3,1 24.1 

accident, accidente, 1 Pr.2,1 2.1 (4x), I 2.2,1 2.7,1 3 T, I 6.4,1 12.2,1 16 T, I 16.1,1 16.5, I 17.2, 
I 18.1,1 18.2,1 28.1,1 33.1,1 33.2 (3x), I 34.3 (3x), I 34.4,1 39 T, I 39.1,1 40 T, 140.1,1 45.2 
(2x), I 46 (2x), 147.2,1 56 T, I 56 (2x), II 5 T, II 15.2, II 16.1, II 16.2, II 18.4, II 21.2, II 22.1 
(2x), II 23 T, II 24.2 (2x), II 29.1, II 32.1, III 1.1, III 1.2 (2x), III 5, III 6.16, III 6.17 (3x), III 

11.1, III 14.1 (2x), III 14.2, III 14.3, III 15.2, III 26.2, III 30.1 (2x), III 30.2, III 33.1, III 36.2, 
III 37.3, III 49.1 (2x); accidental, accidentale, III 36.2. See also incident 

account,* conto, I 12, I 45.2, I 52.3, I 55.1, I 55.2, I 57, I 59, II 4.2, II 10.2, II 17.1, II 17.3, II 
18.3, II 21.2, II 28.1, II 30.4, III 1.2 (3x), III 26.2 (2x), III 31.2, III 35.2; account,* ragione, II 

5.1. For ragione, see also just; reason; type 

accuse, accused, accusate, accusato, I 5.4,1 6.4,1 7.1 (2x), I 7.4 (3x), I 8.2 (3x), I 8.3 (3x), I 9.2, I 45.3 (2x), I 47.3, I 53.5, I 58.1, I 58.2 (2x), I 58.3, 1 Pr.l, 1 Pr.3 (3x), II 26, III 
6.5 (2x), III 6.6 (2x), III 6.7, III 6.8 (2x), III 6.9 (3x), III 6.19, III 8.1 (2x), III 34.2; 
accusation, accusa, I 5.4,1 7 T, I 7.4,1 7.5 (2x), I 8 T, I 8.2 (6x), I 8.4, I 11.1 (2x), III 1.3, III 
6.8 (2x), III 28, III 30.1, III 34.1; accuser, accusatore, I 8.4 (2x), 149.3, III 6.3 (2x), III 6.20 

accustom, assuefare, II 17.5, III 14.2, III 37.4, III 38.2; accustom, accustomed, consueto, consuesco 
(L), I 21.2,1 51, II 2.4, II 4.1 (2x), II 19.1, II 21.2, II 29.1, II 32.1, III 9.2, III 12.1, III 31.4 (L), 
III 49.1, III 49.4; accustom, solere, soleo (L), DL, I 43, III 8.1 (2x), III 31.2 (L), III 43; 
accustomed, usitato, I 55.2; unaccustomed, inconsueto, III 38.1; unaccustomed, inusitato, I 

11.2.1 29.3, II 12.4, II 17.5 (2x), III 38.1 (2x). For consueto, solere, usitato, see also custom 
acquire, acquisition, acquistare, acquisto, acquistato, I 1.3,1 1.4,1 5 T, I 5.2 (2x), I 5.4 (5x), I 6.3, I 

6.4 (3x), I 16.1 (2x), I 16.3, I 18.4, I 20 T, I 20, I 29.1 (3x), I 29.2 (2x), I 29.3 (3x), I 30.1 
(3x), I 34.1, I 37.1 (2x), I 46, I 52.1, I 52.3, II 1 T, II 1.1 (4x), II 1.3 (2x), II 2.1 (2x), II 2.3 
(2x), II 4.1 (3x), II 4.2 (3x), II 6.1 (4x), II 17.1 (2x), II 17.3, II 18.5, II 19 T, II 19.1 (6x), II 
19.2 (12x), II 22.1 (2x), II 24.3 (2x), II 27.2, II 30.1, II 30.2, II 30.5, II 31.2, II 32.1 (3x), II 


32.2 (2x), II 33, III 3 T, III 3, III 6.19, III 10.3 (2x), III 12.1 (3x), III 21.1, III 22 T, III 22.1, III 

22.3, III 22.4 (3x), III 24, III 28, III 34.2 (2x), III 34.3, III 35.2 (2x), III 37.1, III 39.1, III 40.1 
(2x), III 42 (3x), III 45 (2x); reacquire, riacquistare, II 24.2 (2x), II 24.3, III 17 
action, azione, 1 Pr.l, I 9.2, I 11.1, I 14.1, I 40.1, I 50 T, I 50 (2x), I 51, I 53.1, I 58.1, I 60, 1 
Pr.l, II 2.2 (3x), II 3, II 6.1, II 13.1, II 15.1, II 18.1, II 18.3, II 30.1, III 1.6 (2x), III 6.8, III 
6.12 (2x), III 6.13, III 6.15, III 6.16, III 6.17, III 8.1, III 8.2, III 10.1 (2x), III 12.1, III 15.2, III 

18.1 (2x), III 20, III 29, III 30.1, III 34.2 (4x), III 34.3, III 34.4, III 36.2, III 37.1, III 40.1, III 
42 (2x) 

administer, amministrare, 1 Pr.2, I 39.2 (2x), I 50 (2x), III 15.2, III 30.1; administration, 
amministrazione, administratio (L), I 2.3,14.2,1 6.1, III 15.2, III 15.2 (L), III 17 T, III 17.1 
adore, adorare, I 5.2,1 29.3, 1 Pr.2, III 21.1 

advantage, vantaggio, I 58.3, II 6.2, II 12.3, II 17.3 (4x), II 22.2, II 32.1, III 6.20, III 10.1 (2x), 
III 10.2, III 37.3, III 37.4; advantage, commodita, commodo, I 1.5 (2x), I 2.3, II 2.3, II 6.1, II 

6.2, II 12.3, II 12.4, II 17.2 (3x), II 18.3, II 29.1, III 1.2, III 1.6, III 10.3, III 21.4; 
advantageous, advantageously, commodo, I 1.1, II 5.2, II 12.2, III 39.2, III 48.1; 
disadvantage, disax’vantaggio, II 10.2, II 17.2, II 17.3, III 17, III 18.1; disadvantage, 
incommodita, II 17.2, III 21.4, III 23. For commodita, see also convenient; occasion 

afraid, to be, fare paura, II 1.2; to be afraid, temere, I 16.3. See also fear 

alive, vivo, 13.2,1 17.3,122,144.1,157,11 18.4,11 27.4, III 4,1116.2,1116.12, III 6.16, III 6.18. 
See also lively 

alone, solo,* solus (L), I 2.1,1 7.3,1 9 T, I 9.2 (2x), I 9.4,1 9.5,1 18.5,1 35, II 2.1 (2x), II 3, II 4.1 
(3x), II 4.2, II 5.2 (2x), II 8.1 (2x), II 13.1 (4x), II 13.2 (2x), II 18.2, II 18.4, II 20, II 23.3, II 

24.2, II 29.1, II 30.2, II 30.4, III 1.3, III 6.2, III 6.8, III 6.9, III 6.15, III 9.3, III 11.1 (2x), III 
15.1, III 15.2 (2x), III 31.2, III 31.3, III 35.2, III 36.2 (L), III 49.1 

altars, altari, 115 (2x) 

alter, alterare, I 25, III 1.1 (2x), III 8 T; alteration, alterazione, I 5.4, I 25, III 1.1, III 49.4; 

alternating, alterazione, I 7.1. For alterare, see also upset; (/change 
ambassador, ambasciadore, 144.1, II 11.2 (2x), II 28.1 (3x), II 33, III 12.2, III 31.2, III 31.3, III 
32, III 44.1, III 47. Cf spokesmen 

ambiguity, ambiguous, ambiguita, ambiguo, I 30.1 (2x), II 15 T, II 15.1 (5x), II 15.2 (3x) 
ambition, ambizione, DL, I 2.3,1 4.1,1 5.2,1 5.4 (2x), I 6.4,1 7.4,1 8.3,1 9.1,1 9.2,1 9.4,1 10.5,1 

18.2.1 20,1 30.2,1 33.2,1 35,1 36,1 37.1 (2x), I 37.3 (2x), I 39.2 (2x), I 40.5, I 42, I 43, I 46 
T, 146,147.3,1 50 T, I 52.1,155.4,1 55.5, II 6.1, II 6.2, II 8.1, II 19.1, II 20 (2x), II 21.2, III 

1.3, III 2, III 3 (2x), III 6.8, III 8.1, III 8.2, III 11.1 (2x), III 11.2, III 12.1, III 12.2, III 15.2, III 

16.3, III 21.4, III 22.4, III 24, III 30.1, III 38.1; ambitious, ambizioso, 1 Pr.2,1 5.4 (2x), I 6.2, I 

7.3.1 29.1,1 29.3,1 30.1,1 30.2, I 45.2, I 47.3, I 55.5, II 20 (2x), II 22.1, III 8.1, III 12.2, III 
46; ambitiously, ambiziosamente, I 9.2,1 46 

ancestors, antichi, I 2.3. See also ancient; former 
ancestral, patrio, I 1.4, II 5.2, II 8 T. Cf fatherland 

ancient, antiquo, antico, 1 Pr.l, 1 Pr.2 (8x), I 6.1,1 7.2,1 9 T, I 9.2, I 9.4, I 10.2, I 10.5, I 12.2, I 

13.2.1 14.1,1 15,1 16.1, I 19.2, I 25 T, I 25 (5x), I 31.2, I 37 T, I 37.1, I 39.1 (2x), I 40.4, I 

49.2.1 53.2,1 55.2,1 55.4,1 56,1 58.2, 1 Pr.l (3x), 1 Pr.2 (2x), 1 Pr.3 (2x), II 2.1 (2x), II 2.2 
(4x), II 2.4, II 4.1 (3x), II 4.2, II 5.1 (2x), II 8.1 (2x), II 16 T, II 16.2 (2x), II 16.3 (2x), II 17.1, 
II 17.3, II 17.4, II 17.5 (2x), II 17.6, II 18 T, II 18.2, II 18.5, II 19.1, II 20, II 21.2, II 22.1, II 

24.3, II 24.4, II 27.1, II 30.5, III 1.2, III 3, III 4, III 5 (2x), III 10.1 (3x), III 11.1, III 12.1, III 

15.1, III 22.3, III 22.6, III 27.2, III 39.1, III 43 (3x). See also ancestors; former; cf antiquity 
anger (v.), irritare, I 7.1,1 8.2 (2x), II 14 (2x), II 15.2, II 26 (2x); anger (n.), ira, I 7.1, I 14.2, II 

2.1, II 28.1; angered, irato, III 35.1 


animal,* animate, I 16.1, II 2.2 

animate (v.), animire, I 11.2. Cf inspire; spirit 

animus, animo, I 7.3, 1 7.4. See also intent; mind; spirit; cf magnanimous; pusillanimous 
antiquity, in antiquity, antiquita, antichita, anticamente, antiquamente, 1 Pr.2 (2x), I 1.4, I 58.2, 1 
Pr.3, II 2.2, II 5.1 (2x), II 5.2, II 8.2, II 17.1, II 17.2, II 17.3, II 17.4 (2x), II 17.5, II 30.5, III 

27.2, III 43. Cf ancient 

appearance, apparenza, I 46.1 ; spezie, I 53T. For spezie, see also species 

appetite, appetito, I 5.2,1 5.4,1 7.4,1 8.3,1 37.3 (2x), I 42,1 44.2, 1 Pr.3 (3x), III 3, III 4, III 22.3 
arbiter, arbitro, 149.1,1 55.4,1 59, II 22.1, II 25.1. Cf judge 
argument, ragionamento, III 32. See also discuss; reason 

aristocrats, ottimati, I 2.2 (2x), I 2.3, 1 2.5, 1 2.6 (2x), I 2.7 (4x), I 16.5 (4x), I 28, 1 52.3 
arm (n.), arma, armi, arme, arma (L), I 7.3, 1 11.2 (2x), I 16.5, 1 18.4, 1 19.2, 1 19.4 (2x), I 21 T, I 
21.1,121.2,121.3,121.3 (L), I 37.2 (2x), I 38.1, 1 44.2 (2x), I 52.1, 1 52.2, I 53.1, I 54, I 57, 

II 2.1 (2x), II 2.2, II 2.3, II 3 (2x), II 4.1 (2x), II 4.2, II 8.1, II 8.2, II 8.4, II 9, II 10.1 (2x), II 

10.3, II 12.1, II 12.4, II 13.2 (3x), II 14, II 15.1, II 16.1, II 17.1, II 20, II 21.2, II 21.2 (L), II 
23.2, II 24.1 (L)(2x), II 25.1 (2x), II 26 (2x), II 27.3, II 27.4, II 29.1, II 30.1, II 32.1, III 6.15, 

III 6.17, III 6.20 (2x), III 11.2, III 12.2 (L)(2x), III 12.3, III 14.1, III 14.3, III 19.2, III 20 (2x), 
III 22.6, III 24, III 26.1, III 27.2, III 30.1, III 30.2, III 32, III 33.1 (L), III 36.2, III 37.3, III 

37.4, III 43, III 44.1 (3x), III 44.3; arms, armato, I 7.5; men-at-arms, genti d’arini, I 29.2, I 56, 
II 18.4 (2x); men-at-arms, uomini d’anne, II 19.1 (2x); arm, braccio* 147.1, II 17.2, II 23.2, II 

25.1, III 6.15, III 14.1, III 28; arm (v.), armed, armare, armato, anno (L), I 2.3, I 6.3, I 6.4, I 

19.4, I 38.2 (4x), I 40.6, I 43, I 44.1, I 54 (2x), II 2.1, II 2.2, II 3, II 4.1 (2x), II 4.2, II 12.4 
(4x), II 18.3, II 18.4, II 19.1, II 26, II 30.2, II 30.3 (2x), II 30.4, III 6.2 (3x), III 6.17, III 6.19 
(3x), III 12.3 (L)(2x), III 13.3 (2x), III 14.3, III 26.1, III 30.2 (4x), III 31.2, III 31.4, III 32, III 
33.1; disarm, disarmare, II 23.4, II 24.1; disarmed, disarmato, II 2.2, II 30.2, II 30.3, III 41, III 
42; unarmed, disarmato, I 6.3, I 27.1, I 38.2, II 4.2, II 12.4 (2x), II 18.3, II 30.3, III 12.3, III 

21.4, III 31.4, III 37.4 

army, esercito, exercitus (L), passim 

arrogance, arrogant, arroganza, arrogante, I 47.2, II 14 

art, arte, ars ( L), 1 Pr.2, 1 10.1 (2x), I 11.1, 1 19.2 (2x), I 19.3,140.3, 1 Pr.l, II 2.3, II 2.4, II 3, II 
8.3, II 25.1 (2x), II 31.1, IP 6.19 (2x), III 6.20, III 22.4 (L), III 36.1 
artillery, artiglierie, II 16.3 (2x), II 17 T, II 17.1 (12x), II 17.2 (9x), II 17.3 (3x), II 17.4 (4x), II 
17.5 (lOx), II 17.6, II 18.4, II 24.1, II 33 

assault (v.), assaltare, I 1.1, I 1.4, I 6.3, I 9.4, I 12.2, I 21.2 (2x), I 23.2, I 31.2, I 32, I 38.1, I 
40.6, I 53.1, I 53.4, II 1.2 (3x), II 2.3, II 8.1 (2x), II 9 (4x), II 10.2, II 11.1, II 12 T, II 12.1 
(4x), II 12.2 (2x), II 12.3, II 12.4 (4x), II 13.2, II 14, II 17.3, II 17.4 (2x), II 18.3, II 19.1, II 

19.2, II 22.1 (2x), II 22.2 (2x), II 24.2 (5x), II 24.4, II 25 T, II 25.1, II 27.4, II 28.1 (2x), II 
29.1, II 30.4, II 31.2, II 32.1 (3x), III 10.2, III 10.4 (2x), III 11.2, III 12.2, III 18.3, III 30.2, III 

37.4, III 39.1, III 44.3, III 45 T, III 45; assault (n.), assalto, II 17.1, II 17.4 (3x), II 25.1 (2x), II 

27.4, II 32.1 (4x), III 45; assault (n.), insulto, I 13.2 
assert, causare, III 43. See also cause 
astonishment, maraviglia, 1 40.3. See also marvel 
astrologers, astrologi, III 6.11 

astuteness, astutely, astuzia, astutamente, I 6.4, 1 41, II 5.2, II 12.2, III 17 
attack,* offendere, I 34.4, II 17.3, II 18.4. See also hurt; offend 
augurs, aruspici, I 12.1, 1 14.1; augury, augurio, I 14.1 (2x), III 33.1 


auspices, auspicii, auspizi, aruspicare, auspicium (L), I 14 T, I 14.1 (3x), I 14.2 (4x), I 14.3 (4x), III 

33.1 (3x), III 36.2 (L), III 38.1 (L), III 46 
author, autore, I 25,145 T, I 58, III 12.2, III 32, III 35.1 (2x), III 49.2 

authority, autorita, autoritade, 11.1,11.2,11.4,1 2.3 (2x), I 2.7 (4x), I 5.2 (2x), I 5.4 (2x), I 6.1, I 
6.4 (2x), I 7.1 (3x), I 7.2 (2x), I 7.3, I 9.1 (2x), I 9.2 (3x), I 9.3, I 9.4, I 10.2, I 10.5, I 11.2 
(2x), I 12.1,1 12.2,1 13.2,1 16.3,1 17.1,1 18.2,1 18.4,1 18.5,1 25,1 26, I 29.2, I 29.3, I 34 T 
(2x), I 34.1 (3x), I 34.2 (4x), I 34.3 (2x), I 34.4 (3x), I 35 (1 lx), I 36,1 39.2 (2x), 140.2,140.3 
(2x), I 40.4 (2x), I 40.5, I 41, I 44 T, I 44.1 (2x), I 44.2, I 47.1 (3x), I 49.2, I 49.3 (4x), I 50 
(3x), I 52.1, I 53.2 (3x), I 53.3, I 53.5 (2x), I 54 T, I 54, I 55.2, I 55.5, I 58.1, II 4.1 (2x), II 
12.4, II 18 T, II 18.2 (3x), II 19.2 (2x), II 20 (2x), II 24.3, II 33 (3x), III 3, III 5, III 6.3, III 6.4, 
III 6.15, III 6.19, III 8.1, III 8.2, III 11.1 (2x), III 15.2, III 24, III 26.2, III 30 T, III 30.1 (3x), 
III 32 

avarice, ax’arizia, DL, I 2.3,1 29.1 (3x), I 29.3 (2x), 140.5, II 4.2, III 6.20, III 43 (3x); avaricious, 
avaro, III 43. Cf greed 

avenge, vendicare, vendicarsi, I 5.4, I 7.5 (3x), I 16.5 (2x), I 47.2, II 2.1, II 2.2, II 4.1, II 19.2, II 
28 T, II 28.1 (3x), II 28.2 (4x), III 6.2 (3x), III 6.3, III 6.7, III 6.16 (2x), III 6.18 (3x), III 6.20, 
III 7 (2x), III 13.1, III 16.3, III 17; avenger, vendicatrice, I 28. Cf revenge; vindictive 

bad, cattivo* I 5.2,1 7.5,1 8.3 (2x), I 9.1,1 10.4,1 18.3,1 18.4 (4x), I 20,1 24.1,1 49.2, I 49.3, 1 
Pr.3, II 15.1, II 17.4, II 23.2 (2x), II 30.2, III 8.2 (2x), III 13.2, III 16.3, III 22.4, III 22.5, III 
24, III 31.2, III 31.3, III 35.2, III 37.1, III 49.3; bad, badly, malo* male * malus (L), I 3.2, I 

5.4.1 6.2,1 7.4 (2x), I 8.3 (2x), I 11.3,1 13.1,1 17.3,1 18.4,1 24.1,1 35,1 38.2 (3x), I 41, I 45 
T, 146 (L), 147.2,147.3,1 50,153.1,157 (4x), II 18.4, II 19.1, II 23.4, II 24.1 (3x), II 24.2, II 
30.3, III 6.2 (2x), III 6.14, III 6.20, III 8.2, III 10.1, III 13.2, III 14.1, III 19.1, III 21.2, III 

31.1, III 31.3, III 31.4, III 34.4, III 46; bad, reo, I 2.2, I 2.3, I 2.5, I 3.1, I 12.2, I 35 (2x), I 

38.2, III 36.2; bad, tristo, I 30.1,1 31 T, II 19.2, II 24.2, III 9.1, III 35. For cattivo, reo, tristo, see 
also wicked; for male, see also evil; ill; cf malevolent 

barbarian, barbaro, I 1.2,1 7.5,1 12.2, II 2.4, III 43 
battalion, battaglia, II 16.1, II 16.2. See also battle 

battle, battaglia, II 11.2, II 16.2, II 17.1, II 17.2, III 37 T, III 37.3, III 38.2; battle, giomata, I 14.1 
(2x), I 14.2,1 31.1,1 36, II 6.1 (3x), II 16.1 (3x), II 16.2 (3x), II 17.1, II 17.3 (4x), II 17.5, II 

18.2, II 18.4, II 19.1, II 22.1, II 25.2, II 33, III 9.4, III 10 T, III 10.1 (8x), III 10.2 (2x), III 

10.3, III 10.4, III 13.1, III 14.3 (2x), III 18.1, III 18.2, III 31.2 (2x), III 31.4, III 33 T, III 33.1 
(2x), III 37 T, III 37.2, III 38.1, III 45 T, III 45; battle, fortune of, fortuna della zuffa, II 10.1, II 

10.2 (2x), III 10.1; battle, order of, ordering of, ordine della zuffa, ordinare la zuffa, II 16.1, II 

29.1 , III 22.4. For battaglia, see also battalion; for giomata, see also day; for zuffa, see also fight 
beast, bestia, I 2.3 \fiera, III 39.1 

beatify, beatificare, II 2.2 

beautiful, bello, I 11.3,1 31.2, II 24.4, II 28.2 (2x), III 20 
because,* per cagione, III 14.1, III 26 T, III 26.1. See also cause 

beginning (n principio, DL, I 1 T, I 1.1,1 1.2,1 1.3,1 1.4,1 1.5,1 2.1 (5x), I 2.3 (4x), I 2.7,1 9.2, 
I 9.4, I 12.1, I 14.1, I 16.5, I 17.1, I 18.3, I 19.1, I 25, I 29.3, I 30.1, I 33.2, I 33.3, I 33.5, I 

37.1.1 37.3,140.6,1 40.7,1 49 T, I 49.1,1 49.2 (5x), 149.3,1 55.3 (2x), I 55.5, II 6.1, II 9, II 

13.2 (3x), II 15, II 19.2, II 29.2, II 30.2, III 1 T, III 1.1, III 1.2 (3x), III 1.3 (3x), III 1.4, III 1.5, 
III 1.6, III 6.5, III 6.11, III 6.19, III 8.2, III 11.2, III 12.1, III 14.3, III 22.3, III 24, III 26.2, III 

27.2, III 28 T, III 34.2 (2x), III 34.3, III 34.4, III 36 T, III 36.1 (2x), III 36.2, III 38.1 
believe, credere, credo (L), passim, lack of belief, incredulitd, I 53.1; belief, opinione* I 12.1. For 

incredulitd, cf credulity; for opinione, see also opinion; reputation 


belongings, sustanza, I 6.2,1 37.1,1 55.5. Cf property 

benefit, beneficio, benefizio, benificare, beneficium (L), DL, 1 Pr. 1, I 4.1, I 6.4, I 29.1 (L), I 32 T, I 
32 (5x), I 51, I 52.1, I 59, II 23.2 (3x), II 23.2 (L), II 23.4, III 4 (2x), III 6.3, III 8.1 (2x), III 
14.3 (L), III 28 (2x), III 30.1, III 47 
betrothed, maritata, marito, I 22 (2x). See also husband; marry 
Bible, Bibbia, III 30.1 

bishop, vescovo, I 54, III 6.20. Cf episcopal 

blame, biasimo, biasimare, DL, 1 Pr. 1 (2x), I 2.3,1 4.1,1 4.2,1 9.5,1 10.1 (4x), I 10.3 (2x), I 10.4, 
I 21 T, I 24.1, I 28, I 38.3, I 44.2, I 49.1, I 53.5, 1 Pr.2 (2x), 1 Pr.3 (2x), II 15.2, II 19.2, II 

29.1, III 27.4 

blind (v.), blinded, accecate, accecato, DL, I 17.1,1 35,1 40.7,142,1 53.2, II 29 T, III 6.3 (2x), III 
6.8, III 12.2, III 28, III 48.1, III 48.2; blind (n.), cieco, caecus (L), III 35.2, III 36.2, III 36.2 (L), 
III 39.2 (L); blindness, cecita, III 8.1 

blood, bloodline, bloodshed, bloody, sangue, sanguinosa, sanguis (L), I 4.1, I 5.4, I 10.5, I 17.3, I 
37.2 (2x), 149.3,153.1,160 (2x), 160 (L), 112.2,114.1, II 19.2, II 22.1, II 29.1, III 6.2 (2x), 
III 6.20, III 7 T, III 7 (2x), III 12.3, III 19.1, III 27.1, III 27.2, III 46 
body,* corpo, II 2.2, II 2.4 (2x), II 3, II 5.2 (3x), II 12.4, II 16.1 (3x), II 16.2, II 30.3, III 1.1 (3x), 
III 1.2 (3x), III 8.1, m 11.1 
book, libro, 1 Pr.2,1 1.6,1 13.2, 1 Pr.3, II 29.2, III 1.6 

boy, fanciullo, III 6.5 (2x), III 6.10; giovinetto, giovanetto, III 34.3, III 46. For fanciullo, see also 
child; for giovanetto, cf youth 
brain, cervello, I 55.5, III 6.14 
bridle, freno, I 58.2. See also check 

bring up, addurre, I 7.1, I 7.5, I 8.3, I 9.4, I 13.1, I 13.2, I 14.3, I 17.2, I 23.4, I 31.1, I 33.3, I 

47.2, I 53.3, I 55.1, I 56, I 59, II 1.1, II 3, II 8.2, II 12.1, II 12.3, II 21.2, II 23.2, II 29.3, II 
31.1, III 3, III 6.6, III 11.1, III 12.2, III 14.1, III 14.3, III 15.1, III 15.2, III 16.1, III 36.2 (2x) 

brother, fratello, I 9.1, I 9.2, I 18.5, I 36, I 54, II 21.2, III 6.5, III 6.11, III 6.14, III 6.18 (2x); 
brother-in-law, cognato, II 31.1 

build, builder, building, edificare, edificatore, edicazione, edificio, 11.1 (2x), I 1.2, I 1.3 (6x), I 1.4 
(6x), I 1.5 (6x), I 26 (2x), I 28,1 53.1,1 56, II 1.1, II 4.1, II 24.1 (7x), II 24.2 (2x), II 24.4 (4x), 

III 25 

calumny, calumniate, calumniator, calunnia, calunniare, calunnatore, I 5.4,1 7.5, I 8 T, I 8.2 (9x), 

I 8.3 (6x), I 8.4 (2x), I 10.5, II 21.2 

campaign, impresa, I 8.3, II 4.2, II 6.2, II 10.1, II 10.2, III 12.2, III 35.1 (2x). See also enterprise 
capital, capitate, I 10.2,1 10.5,1 31.2, II 19.1, II 26; capital, capo* I 1.3. For capo, see also head 
captain (n.), capitano, 1 Pr.2,1 8.3, I 13.1, I 14.2, I 15, I 21.2 (2x), I 23.4, I 29.1 (4x), I 30 T, I 

30.1 (2x), I 31 T, I 31.1 (3x), I 31.2,1 38.3,1 44.1,1 49.3 (2x), I 53.5, II 2.2, II 2.4, II 8.1, II 9, 

II 10.2 (3x), II 10.3, II 16.1, II 16.2 (3x), II 17.1, II 17.4 (2x), II 18.2, II 18.3, II 18.4, II 20, II 

24.2, II 24.3 (2x), II 26 (3x), II 29.1, II 29.2, II 30.4, II 33 T, II 33 (2x), III 6.9 (2x), III 9.1, III 
9.4, III 10 T, III 10.1 (2x), III 10.2, III 12 T, III 12.1 (2x), III 12.2 (2x), III 12.3 (2x), III 13 T 
(2x), III 13.1 (5x), III 13.2 (2x), III 13.3 (5x), III 14.2 (2x), III 14.3 (2x), III 18 T, III 18.1, III 

18.2, III 18.3, III 19.1, III 21.1, III 21.3, III 21.4, III 22.1, III 22.6, III 31.4 (2x), III 32, III 33 
T, III 33.1 (3x), III 37.1, III 37.2 (2x), III 37.3, III 37.4 (3x), III 38 T, III 38.1 (4x), III 39 T, III 

39.1 (2x), III 39.2, III 40.2, III 44.2, III 48.1; captain (v.), capitanare, I 38.3, II 20, III 13.2 
capture, capturer, espugnazione, espugnare, espugnatore, I 6 4,1 8.3,1 13.1 (5x), I 13.2 (2x), I 53.1, 

I 53.5,1 59, II 17.4 (2x), II 24.2, II 27.2, III 12.1 (5x), III 12.2, III 20, III 37.3. See also storm 


cardinal, cardinale, I 27.1,1 54, III 6.13 (2x) 

care, cum, curare, I 5.2, I 9.2, I 14.1, I 31.1 (2x), I 55.4, II 1.2, II 4.1 (2x), II 16.2, II 18.3, II 
27.4, III 2, III 6.18, III 10.1, III 18.2 
caress, carezzare, accarezzare, II 23.4, III 6.11 
case,* causa, I 5.4,1 40.3. See also cause 
cathedral, cattedrale, III 6.13; duomo, 156 

cause (n.), cagione, passim, caused, per cagione, I 13.2; cause (n.), causa, I 7.1, I 45.1, II 15.2, III 
8.1, m 21,1, III 26.2; cause (v.), causare, I 1.4, I 4.2, I 5.4, I 6.2, I 6.4, I 9.2, I 11.4, I 32, I, 1 Pr.2, III 1.6, III 4 (2x), III 7, III 16.2, III 17, III 26.2, III 27.2, III 30.1, 
III 31.3, III 34.2 (2x). For cagione, see also because; for causa, see also case; for causare, see also 

cavalry, cax’alleria, II 16.2 (3x), II 17.5 (2x), II 18.3 (2x), II 19.1; cavalrymen, cavalieri, II 18.2, II 
18.3 (2x), II 19.1, III 1.3. C/horse 

censors, Censori, I 49.1 (2x), III 1.3, III 46 (2x), III 49.4; censorship, Censura, I 5.2 
centurion, centurione, 115 (2x), III 6.11, III 6.15, III 18.2 
century, secolo, I 1.1,1 1.5,1 11.1,1 58.3, II 19.1, III 34.2. See also epoch 
ceremony, cerimonia, I 10.5,1 12.1 (3x), II 2.2, II 5.1, III 1.2, III 48.1. Cf rites 
chance (n.), caso* I 2.1, I 2.3, I 2.7, I 6.1, I 14.2, I 55.3, II 9 (4x), III 18.3, III 43; chance (v.), 
sortire, I 19.1,1 19.4. For caso, see also perchance; for sortire, see also lot 
change (v.), (ri)mutare, I 18.2,1 25,141,1 42,1 49.3, II 6.2, II 8.2 (2x), II 8.4, II 23.2, II 25.1, II 
26, II 27.4, III 3, III 6.14, III 7 T, III 7 (4x), III 9.1 (2x), III 9.2 (2x), III 9.3 (2x), III 12.1, III 

18.3, III 25; change (n.), mutazione, I 2.4,1 49.3. Cf alter 

chapter, capitolo, I 2.7,1 4.2,1 5.3,1 6.4,1 7.5,1 14.3,1 16.6,1 18.5,1 22,1 25, I 26, I 28, I 47.3, 

I 54,158.4, II 1.3, II 4.2, II 11.2, II 15.2, II 16.3, II 19.2, II 26, II 31.2, III 3, III 4, III 5 (2x), 
III 8.2, III 9.4, III 16.3, III 20, III 26.2, III 26.3, III 37.4. See also treaty 

charity, carita, III 20, III 47 
chastity, castitd, III 20 (2x) 

check (v.), frenare, I 8.1,1 18.1,1 18.2 (2x), I 18.5, I 37.3, 142, I 50, I 53.1, I 54 T, I 54 (3x), I 
55.4,157, II 23.3, II 24.2; check (n .), freno, 13.2,1 6.1, I 49.3, I 55.4, II 19.1, II 24.1, II 24.2 
(2x), II 33, III 11.1, III 16.1. See also bridle 

child, figliuolo, I 16.3,1 32, II 2.3, III 6.18 (3x); fanciullo, II 29.1, III 20 (2x). For figliuolo, see also 
daughter; son; for fanciullo, see also boy 

choose, eleggere, DL (2x), I 1.4,1 2.3,1 2.5,1 5.2,1 9.1,1 10.5,1 11.1,1 18.3,142,1 59,1 60 (2x), 

II 10.2, II 12.1, III 2 (2x), III 6.15, III 6.17, III 16.3; choice, elezione, I 1.4 (4x), I 1.5, I 2.3, I 
3.2,1 5.2,1 10.1,1 34.4,1 38 T, I 38.2,1 58.3 (4x), II 1.2, II 6.1, II 13.2, II 21.2, III 8.2, III 9.1, 

III 16.3. See also elect; levy 

Christian, cristiano, 1 Pr.2,1 12.1 (2x), I 26, II 5.1 (3x), II 16.2. Cf Gentile 
church, chiesa, I 12.2 (5x), I 27.1 (2x), II 8.4, II 22.1 (3x), III 6.13 (3x), III 31.3; Church, the 

Roman, Chiesa romana, I 12 T, I 12.1,1 12.2 

cite, cited before, allegare, preallegare, I 6.4, I 7.4, I 12.2, I 23.2, I 54, I 58.3 (2x), II 3, II 4.2 
(2x), II 8.1, II 10.1, II 12.1 (5x), II 12.2 (3x), II 16.3, II 18.4, II 19.1, II 24.1, II 24.3, III 6.8, 

III 6.16 (2x), III 6.19, III 8.2, III 9.3, III 22.4, III 28, III 37.4 
citizen, cittadino, passim, citizenry, civilta, III 49.4; citizenship, civilita, civilta, II 3, II 23.4, III 
49.4; citizenship, cittd, civitas (L), II 23.2 (L), II 23.2. For civilita and civilta, see also civility; 
civilization; for cittd and civitas, see also city 
city, cittd, cittade, passim, city, civitas (L), III 8.1. See also citizenship 


civil, civilly, civile, civilmente, 1 Pr.2 (2x), I 2.3,1 10.5,1 11.1,1 11.2,1 13.2, I 14.1, I 33.3, I 37.2 
(2x), 140.3,145.1,149.2,1 53.1, II 18.2, II 21.2, III 3, III 6.11, III 13.3; civility, civilita, I 2.3, 

I 24.1,1 28; civilized, civile, I 11.5; civilization, civilita, civilta, I 11.1,1 11.3 (2x), I 55.4 (2x), II 
2.4. For civile, see also life; life, way of; for civilita and civilta, see also citizenship 

collectivity, universale, I 2.6,1 16.4,1 17.3, I 25, I 32, I 39.2 (2x), I 40.6, I 52.2 (2x), II 22.1, III 
3, III 6.2, III 29, III 34.1; collectivity, universalita, universita, I 7.1,1 50 (2x), II 2.2, II 28.1, III 7 
(2x). See also universal 

colony, colonia, I 1.3,1 37.2 (4x), II 4.1, II 6.1 (2x), II 6.2 (3x), II 7 (4x), II 13.2, II 19.1, II 23.2, 

II 30.4 (2x), III 15.1, III 32; colonist, colono, II 6.1, II 7 T, II 7 

color, colore, colorire, I 18.5,1 34.3, II 9, II 22.1, II 32.1, III 6.7, III 12.2, III 20, III 28 
combat, (ri)combattere, I 14.1,1 14.2 (2x), I 23.3, I 31.2, I 37.1 (3x), I 38.3, I 43 T, I 43 (3x), II 

1.1 (3x), II 1.2 (2x), II 1.3, II 2 T, II 2.1, II 2.4, II 8.1 (2x), II 9, II 10.1, II 10.2 (3x), II 12.1, II 

12.2, II 12.3 (2x), II 12.4, II 16.1 (3x), II 16.2 (2x), II 17.3, II 17.5, II 18.3 (2x), II 18.4 (2x), 

II 19.1, II 22.2 (2x), II 26, II 27.1, II 27.4, II 28.1, II 29.1, II 30.4, II 32.1, III 1.2 (2x), III 10.1 
(2x), III 10.2 (3x), III 12 T, III 12.1 (3x), III 12.2 (4x), III 14.2, III 17 (2x), III 18.1, III 22.4, 

III 31.3 (2x), III 33.1, III 34.2 (2x), III 36.1 (2x), III 36.2 (2x), III 45, III 49.1 
coming,* futuro, III 26.3. See also future 

command (v.), commandare, I 1.4,1 8.3,1 9.1,1 9.2,1 11.2,1 13.2,1 14.2 (2x), I 16.5 (2x), I 34.1, 
1 36,138.1,140.5,145.1,155.1,1 55.4,1 57,1 58.3, 1 Pr.2, II 4.1 (3x), II 8.1 (3x), II 11.2, II 

16.2, III 5, III 12.3, III 14.3, III 15.2, III 16.3, III 19.1 (2x), III 21.2, III 22.1 (8x), III 22.3 
(2x), III 23, III 29, III 30.1 (2x), III 30.2, III 31.4, III 38.1; command (n.), commandamento, I 

31.2, II 16.1; co mm and (n.), imperio, imperium (L), I 5.2,1 20 (2x), I 34.1, III 10.1, III 15.1 (L), 
III 19.1, III 22.1 (3x), III 22.1 (L), III 22.3 (3x), III 22.4, III 24 T, III 24 (7x), III 30.1; 
commander, comandatori, III 15 T, III 15.1 (2x), III 24; commander, imperadore, imperator (L), 
115, III 36.2 (L)(2x). For imperio and imperadore, see also emperor; empire; rule; cf imperial 

commission,* commission, II 15.1, II 33 T, III 6.7, III 6.8 (2x), III 6.11, III 6.15, III 6.20, III 10.1 
(3x), III 14.2, III 31.2; commissioner, commissario, I 8.3, I 38.3, II 33, III 6.20 (2x), III 15.2 
(2x), III 16.3 (2x), III 48.2 

common benefit, comune benefizio or beneficio, 1 Pr.l, III 28; common good, bene comune, I 4.1, I 

9.2 (2x), 19.3, I 58.3, I 58.4, II 2.1 (2x), III 11.1, III 12.2, III 22.4, III 34.3; common utility, 
comune utilita, I 2.3,1 16.3,1 49.2, III 34.2. See also utility; cf life, way of 

community, communita, II 4.2 (2x), II 19.2 (3x) 
company, compagnia, III 15.2, III 34.2. Copartner 
compassion, compassione, I 2.3,1 56,1 58.2, III 31.3 

conceal, concealed, nascondere, nascoso, nascosto, ascoso, I 3.2, I 53.2 (3x), 1 Pr.l (2x), II 5.2, III 
11.1, HI 19.1, III 28 T, III 33.1, III 48.2. Cf covert; hidden 
concubine, concubina, III 6.10 

condition,* grado, I 40.6. See also degree; favor; rank 
condottiere, condottiere, II 17.4, II 18.3 

conduct (v.),* governare, I 38.2,140.3,1 40.5, III 44.3. See also govern 

confederate, confederato, foederatus (L), II 8.3, II 14 (L), II 14, III 11.2 (2x), III 12.2; 

confederation, confederazione, I 58.4,1 59 T, I 59 (2x). O'league 
confess, confessare, I 16.3 (2x), I 22, II 1.1, II 2.3, III 1.4, III 6.5; confession, confession, II 1.1, II 
18.5, III 1.4 

confident, confidently confidente, confidentemente, I 14.3, II 12.3, III 33 T, III 33.1 (6x), III 33.2, 
III 36.2, III 38 T, III 38.1, III 38.2 (2x); confidence, confidenza, confidare, I 14.3, I 15, I 24.1, I 

29.3, See also trust 


conform, conformare, I 2.7, I 49.1, I 52.3 (2x), III 22.4, III 22.5 (2x), III 34.3; conformable, 
confonno, I 9.2, III 9.3; conformity, confomiita, disfonnita, disformo, I 59, III 9.2, III 39.2; to not 
conform, disformare, I 16.5,1 18.1,1 37.3, II 16 T, III 10.1 
conjecture, coniettura, conietturare, I 12.1,1 18.4,1 28,1 31.2,1 52.3,1 55.2,1 58.4, II 1.1, III 6.4, 
III 6.5 (2x), III 16.3, III 18.1, III 43, III 48.2 

conquer, conquered, vincere,* vinto,* vinco (L), I 9.4,1 15,1 15 (L), I 18.3, I 19.2, I 21.3, I 22, I 

24.1.1 29.2 (2x), I 31.1, II 1.2, II 4.1, II 8.1 (3x), II 8.4, II 10.1 (6x), II 10.3, II 12.1 (3x), II 

12.4 (3x), II 14 T, II 16.2, II 19.2, II 19.2 (L), II 20, II 22.1, II 22.2 (2x), II 23.2, II 23.2 (L) 
(2x), II 25.1, II 27 T, III 6.19, III 10.3 (2x), III 12.1, III 13.1 (3x), III 13.3 (2x), III 16.2, III 

30.1 (3x), III 31.2 (L), III 31.3, III 33.1, III 36.2 (4x), III 37.1, III 37.3, III 37.4, III 38.1 (2x), 
III 44.3, III 48.1, III 48.2; conqueror, vincitore, II 19.2, III 31.2. For vincere, see also defeat 

conscience, conscienza, I 27.1, I 55.2, III 6.16; conscious, coscienza, II 15.1; consciousness, 
conscientia (L), II 14 

consent, consentire, acconsentire, consentimento, I 9.1, I 17.1, I 36, I 38.3, I 53, II 8.3, II 28.2, III 
6.3, III 6.20, III 7, III 19.1, III 21.3, III 29, III 43 

conspire, congiurare, I 16.4,1 16.5,1 33.1, II 1.1, II 4.1, II 13.2, II 26, III 6.1, III 6.2 (4x), III 6.3 
(4x), III 6.4, III 6.14 (2x), III 6.15 (4x), III 6.16 (3x), III 6.20 (4x), III 11.2 (2x), III 49.1; 
conspire, conspirare, III 6.19 (2x); conspiracy, congiura, I 2.3,1 5.4,1 33.5, II 2.2, II 20, II 26, II 

32.1 (2x), II 32.2, III 5, III 6 T, III 6.1, III 6.2 (5x), III 6.3 (5x), III 6.4, III 6.5 (3x), III 6.6 
(4x), III 6.7, III 6.9 (2x), III 6.11, III 6.13, III 6.14, III 6.15, III 6.16 (5x), III 6.19 (5x), III 6.20 
(lOx), III 26.2, III 49.1. For congiurare, cf swear; for conspirare, cf plot; for congiura, see also 

constitute, constitute, I 2.3, I 4.2, I 5.1 (2x), I 9.2, I 11.1, I 49.3, I 55.6; constitution, 
constituzione, I 2.6 (2x), I 6.4,1 58.2. See also institute; place 
consul, Consolo, consul (L), I 2.7 (3x), I 5.2, I 9.2, I 13.2 (8x), I 14.2 (5x), I 16.4, I 18.2, I 20, I 

25.1 34.4 (3x), I 34.4 (L), I 35 (4x), I 36 (5x), I 37.2 (2x), I 39.2 (6x), I 40.2, I 40.3, I 40.4, I 

40.4 (L), 140.7,143,147.1,1 50 (4x), I 52.3,1 53.2,1 53.4, I 58.2, I 58.3, I 60, II 2.3, II 2.4, 

II 6.2 (2x), II 10.2, II 11.2 (2x), II 16.1 (2x), II 18.2, II 18.3, II 23.2, II 23.4, II 26, II 33 (6x), 

III 6.19, III 6.20 (2x), III 7, III 12.3, III 13.1, III 16.2, III 17 (2x), III 18.2 (3x), III 22.1, III 

22.4 (3x), III 24, III 25 (2x), III 27.1, III 33.1 (4x), III 35.1, III 36.2, III 39.2 (5x), III 40.1, III 
40.2, III 41 (2x), III 42 (2x), III 45 (2x), III 47 (3x), III 48.1; consular, consolare, consularis (L), 
I 13.1,1 14.1,1 39.2 (2x), I 40.5, I 47.1 (3x), I 48, II 2.4, II 24.3, II 28.1, III 1.2, III 15.1, III 

15.1 (L), III 30.1; consulate, consolato, consulatus (L), I 5.4, I 18.3 (2x), I 35, I 37.2, I 47.1 
(2x), I 60 T, I 60 (3x), II 16.1, III 16.2, III 24 (2x), III 25, III 34.4, III 38.1 (L) 

contemplative, contemplativo, II 2.2 

content, contentare, contento, I 1.4,1 2.3,1 5.2,1 8.3,1 13.1 (2x), I 16.3,1 16.5 (3x), I 22, I 39.2, I 

43.147.1 (2x), 155.3, II 19.2 (2x), II 21.2, III 4 (2x), III 6.1, III 6.4, III 6.10, III 25, III 30.1, 
III 42; contentment, contentezza, II 21.2, III 22.3; discontent, discontented, male contento, mal 
contentezza, I 37.1, 1 Pr.3, III 2, III 6.4 (3x), III 27.3 

contention, contenzione, contentio (L), I 37.1,1 37.3,1 40.2,1 47.1 (L), III 12.1, III 24 
contract (v.), contrarre, I 59, III 13.1 

convenient, conveniente, I 9.4,1 16.5,1 50, III 35.1, III 49.4; conveniently, commodamente, I 23.2, 
III 48.1; convenience, commodita, II 17.3; inconvenience, inconveniente, I 6.3 (3x), I 6.4, I 12.2, 
I 16.4,1 18.3 (2x), I 18.4,1 23.2,1 33 T, I 33.2 (2x), 140.5,1 45.3,146,1 50, II 26, II 30.3, III 
6.12 (2x), III 6.14, III 10.1,111 10.3,111 11.1,111 16.2,11121.3,11121.4, III 24 (2x), III 27.3, III 
28, III 29, III 37.1; inconvenience, scommodo, II 32.1. For conveniente, see also fitting; suitable; 
for commodita and scommodo, see also advantage; occasion 


corrupt, corrompere, corrotto, corrumpo (L), I 1.5,1 2.1,1 2.2,1 6.2,1 8.3 (2x), I 10.3,1 10.5 (2x), I 

10.6.1 11.3,1 16.2,1 16.6 (2x), I 17 T, I 17.1 (4x), I 17.2 (2x), I 17.3 (2x), I 18 T, I 18.1 (3x), 

I 18.2,1 18.3 (2x), I 18.5,1 29.3,1 30.1 (2x), I 33.2,1 35 (2x), I 37.1,140.4 (L), 142 T, 142, I 

47.3.1 48,1 49.1,1 49.3,1 52.1,1 55 T, I 55.1, I 55.2, I 55.4, I 58.3, 1 Pr.3 (2x), II 19.1 (2x), 

II 19.2, II 22.1, III 1.2, III 1.3 (3x), III 6.19, III 8.1 (3x), III 8.2 (4x), III 11.1 (2x), III 11.2, III 

16.2, III 22.5, III 28, III 30.1, III 33.1, III 49.4; corruption, (in)corruzione, I 10.4, I 10.5, I 16.2 
(2x), I 17.1 (3x), I 17.2 (2x), I 17.3 (2x), I 18.1 (2x), I 18.2, I 18.4, I 18.5, I 29.3, I 55.2, III 

1.3, III 6.19, III 11.2, III 34.4; corruption, corruttela, I 55.3 (3x), I 55.4, III 27.3; corruptible, 
corrottibile, III 11.1; noncorrupt, non corrotto, I 34.2 (2x); uncorrupt, incorrotto, incorrupt us (L), I 

12.1 (2x), I 47.1 (L), I 55.3,1 58.2, III 17 

council, concilio, consiglio, I 6.1,1 7.1,1 8.2,1 34.3,1 49 3 (2x), I 50 T, I 50 (4x), I 52.2,1 55.2, II 

4.2, II 13.2, II 14, II 15.1 (2x), III 30.1. See also counsel 

counsel (v.), consigliare, I 7.1, I 9.2, I 11.2 (2x), I 38.2 (2x), I 44.2, II 10.3, II 15.1, II 22.1, II 

23.3, II 23.4, II 24.2, II 27.1, II 33 (5x), III 5, III 11.2, III 16.1 (3x), III 28, III 30.1, III 32, III 
34.4 (2x), III 35 T, III 35.1, III 35.2 (6x), III 35.3, III 41; counsel (n.), consiglio, consilium (L), I 
1.6 (2x), I 2.4,1 33.3,1 34.4,1 36,1 38.3,1 59, II 10.3, II 12.1 (2x), II 15.1 (L), II 23.2 (2x), II 
26, II 33, III 6.18, III 6.20, III 9.3, III 15.2 (2x), III 18.3, III 28, III 34.4, III 35.1 (4x), III 35.2 
(4x), III 35.3 (2x), III 40.2, III 41, III 48.2; counselor, consigliere, III 6.16; counselors, 
consigliatori, III 35.1. For consiglio, see also council 

country, paese, I 1.3,1 1.4 (8x), I 1.5,123.2,138.1,155.3,11 2.3 (2x), II 2.4 (2x), II 4.1, II 6.1, II 
7, II 8 T, II 8.2 (5x), II 8.4 (5x), II 10.1, II 12.3 (3x), II 12.4 (2x), II 16.2 (2x), II 17.3 (2x), II 

18.2, II 18.3, II 19.1 (2x), II 20 (2x), II 22.2, II 24.4, II 32.1, II 33, III 6.15, III 10.1, III 10.2 
(2x), III 10.4 (2x), III 33.2, III 35.1 (2x), III 37.4, III 39.1, III 39.2 (5x), III 43 

cousins, cugini, I 27.1 

covert, coperto* II 13.2. Cf conceal; hidden 

cowardice, cowardly, vilta, vile, invilire, I 6.3, I 10.1, I 27.1, I 29.1, I 53.2 (3x), I 57, II 2.2, II 

12.4, II 14 (2x), II 18.2 (2x), II 19.2, II 23.3, II 23.4, II 26, II 30.2, II 32.1, III 6.14 (2x), III 
31.1, III 31.2, III 31.3 (4x), III 37.3, III 38.2, III 48.2. See also v ile 

crazy, pazzo, I 10.1,1 58.4, III 2; craziness, pazzia, I 58.4, II 25.1, III 2 T. Cf insane; mad 
create, recreate, creare, ricieare, I 1.4,1 3 T, I 5.4,1 8.1, I 13.1 (2x), I 18.2, I 18.3, I 18.5 (2x), I 
25 (2x), I 33.1,1 34.1,1 34.2, I 35 T, I 35 (2x), I 37.1, I 39.2 (3x), I 40.2 (2x), I 40.4, I 40.5 
(4x), 141 (2x), 144.1 (2x), 147.1 (3x), I 47.2,1 49.1 (4x), I 49.3,1 50 (3x), II 29.1 (2x), III 1.2 
(2x), III 15.1, III 25 (2x), III 28, III 30.1, III 33.1, III 34.4 (3x); creation, creazione, I 2.7, I 3.2, 7.1, I 13.1, I 17.1, I 33.5, I 34.4, I 35 T, I 35 (2x), I 37.1, I 40 T, I 40.1 (2x), I, III 15.1, III 34.4 

credit, credito, I 52.1 (2x), III 1.4 (2x); credit, fede, I 12.1. For fede, see also faith; pledge; vouch; cf 

credulity, credulita, I 12.1; incredulous, incredulo, I 12.1. Cf believe 

criminal, scelerato, I 10.4 (2x), I 40.7, I 45.1, II 2.2, II 23.3, III 29; criminal, criminalmente, II 
21.2; criminality, sceleratezza, III 32 (2x) 
crucify, crucifire, 131.1 

cruel, cruelty, crudele, crudeltade, crudelitas (L), I 10.5 (2x), I 16.4, I 18.5, I 26, I 40.2, I 41 T, I 
44.2 (L)(2x), 147.2,1 58.4, II 2.1, II 8.1, II 23.2, III 5, III 6.20, III 19.1 (3x), III 20, III 21.1, 

III 21.4 (3x), III 22.3, III 28, III 32, III 41 

crush, opprimere, I 1.4,1 6.4,1 7.1,1 7.2,1 27.1,130 T, I 30.1,1 34.4,1 38.1,1 39.2 (2x), 140 T, I 

52.2, I 52.3, I 58.2, II 2.1, II 2.4, II 4.1, II 6.1, II 9 (2x), II 20 (2x), II 24.2, II 25.1 (2x), II 

25.2, III 2, III 3, III 6.3, III 6.5, III 6.13, III 6.19 (2x), III 6.20 (3x), III 8.1, III 8.2, III 10.2, III 


12.2, III 17, III 28, III 31.1, III 31.3, III 35.1; crushing, oppressione, II 24.2, II 32.2. See also 

cult, culto, I 11.4,1 12.1. Cf hidden 

custom, costume, I 10.4 (2x), I 12.2,1 18.1 (2x), I 31.2,1 36,1 37.2, I 40.3, I 42, I 49.1, I 55.3, I 

58.3, 1 Pr.l, 1 Pr.2, II 4.2, II 5.2, II 19.1, II 19.2 (3x), III 1.3, III 34.2, III 43 (2x), III 46 T; 
custom, consuetudine, I 3.2,1 36,1 37 T, I 43, 1 Pr.2, III 5, III 9.1, III 22.3, III 24; customary, 
consueto, I 23.4, I 34.3, II 9, III 22.3; customary, usitato, I 43; customarily, solere, II 24.2; 
uncustomary, inusitato, 140.3. For consueto, solere, usitato, see also accustom 

danger, pericolo, periculo, periculum (L), I 1.1,1 2.1 (2x), I 3.2,1 10.1,1 13.2 (2x), I 17.3, I 19.4, I 

20.1 23 T, I 23.1, I 27.2, I 31.1, I 31.2, I 32 (3x), I 33.1 (2x), I 33.3, I 33.5, I 34.2, I 34.3, I 

45.3.1 46 (2x), 147.1,1 47.2,147.3,1 50,1 52.3,1 53.1,1 53.3,1 57 (2x), I 58.1 (L), I 59,1 60, 

II 2.1, II 16.1, II 17.4 (4x), II 18.1, II 20 T, II 23.3, II 24.2, II 28.2 (2x), II 30.2, II 32.1, II 

32.2, II 33, III 1.3 (2x), III 2 (2x), III 6.2 (8x), III 6.4 (4x), III 6.6 (2x), III 6.7, III 6.8, III 6.9 
(3x), III 6.10, III 6.18 (2x), III 6.19 (lx), III 6.20, III 8.1, III 10.1, III 10.2, III 11.2 (2x), III 

16.2, III 21.4, III 22.4, III 25, III 33.1 (2x), III 35 T (2x), III 35.1, III 35.2 (4x), III 35.3 (3x), 

III 36.2, III 37.4 (2x), III 39.2, III 47.1; dangerous, pericoloso, periculoso, 1 Pr.l, I 2.1, I 8.1, I 33.3 (2x), I 34.3,1 35,1 46,149.3,1 50,1 52.2 (2x), I 52.3, II 8.1 (3x), II 8.3, II 

12.4, II 28 T, II 31 T, II 31.1, II 32.1 (2x), II 32.2, II 33, III 1.6, III 2, III 4, III 6.1 (3x), III 6.2 
(2x), III 6.4 (2x), III 6.15, III 6.19, III 6.20, III 7 (2x), III 8.2, III 13.3, III 16.2 (2x), III 16.3, 
III 17 (2x), III 22.4, III 28 (3x), III 30.1, III 30.2, III 33.2, III 34.4, III 35.1, III 44.1, III 49.1 

daughter, figliuola, I 11.1, II 6.2, II 28.2, III 4 (2x), III 6.17, III 6.19, III 28, III 34.3. Cf child; son 
day,* giornata, II 17.1. See also battle 

death, morte, mors (L), 14.1,1 7.2,19.1,1 9.2,1 9.5,1 10.4 (2x), I 10.5,1 10.6 (2x), I 14.2,1 17.2, 
1 22,128,1 31.1,1 33.3,145.2, I 46, I 53.1 (2x), I 56, I 57, I 58.1 (3x), I 58.2, II 2.1 (2x), II 

10.1 (2x), II 12.2 (2x), II 17.1, II 17.4 (2x), II 19.2, II 22.2, II 30.4, III 1.3 (4x), III 3 (3x), III 4 
(2x), III 6.2 (L), III 6.2, III 6.4, III 6.15, III 6.18, III 6.20 (3x), III 7 (2x), III 8.1 (2x), III 13.1, 
III 13.3, III 15.1, III 18.1, III 22.1, III 22.4, III 22.6, III 30.1, III 45, III 49.1, III 49.2; death, 
morire, 153.1. See also die; kill 

deceive, deceived, ingannare, ingannarsi, ingannato, DL (2x), 14.1,1 10.1,1 10.3,1 18.3,1 22, I 32, 

I 33.5, I 35, I 36, I 41, I 46, I 47 T (2x), I 47.1, I 47.2, I 47.3 (5x), I 48 (2x), I 53 T, I 53.1 
(2x), I 58.3, 1 Pr.2 (3x), 1 Pr.3, II 1.2, II 10.1 (2x), II 13.1 (3x), II 14 T, II 17.5, II 20, II 22.1, 

II 22.2, II 23.4, II 25.1, II 25.2 (2x), II 27.1, III 3 (2x), III 4 (2x), III 6.4 (2x), III 6.8, III 8.2 
(2x), III 10.1, III 12.2, III 22.1, III 34.4 (2x), III 43; deception, inganno, I 3.2,1 20, I 28, I 47.2 
(2x), 147.3 (2x), 1 Pr.l, 1 Pr.2, 1 Pr.3, II 4.1, II 13.1, II 13.2 (2x), II 18.3, II 22.1 (2x), II 23.4, 
II 28.2, III 6.7, III 6.19 (2x), III 14.3, III 48 T; undeceived, sgannarsi, I 50 

decide, deliberare, diliberare, 1 Pr.l, I 9.2 (2x), I 15, I 16.5, I 18.3 (2x), I 21.1, I 31.1, I 33.1, I 

34.2.1 34.3,1 38 T, I 38.1, I 38.4, I 40.3, I 40.4, I 51 (2x), I 53.5, I 59, II 2.1 (2x), II 4.2, II 

15.1 (6x), II 15.2 (2x), II 16.1, II 22.1, II 23.4, II 26, II 27.2, II 28.2, II 33, III 6.10 (2x), III 
6.13, III 6.17, III 10.1, III 10.2 (3x), III 13.3, III 18.1 (2x), III 18.3 (3x), III 20, III 34.3, III 

44.1, III 44.2, III 44.3; decision, deliberazione, diliberazione, I 6.3,1 9.4, I 11.3, I 23.2, I 27.1, I 

33.1.1 38.1 (2x), I 39.2,147.1,1 50,1 52.2,1 52.3,1 53.1,1 53.4 (2x), I 55.1 (3x), I 55.2,1 57, 

I Pr.3, II 4.2, II 8.1, II 15 T, II 15.1 (4x), II 22.1, II 23.2, II 23.4, II 33, III 6.2, III 10.1, III 

11.1 , III 18.1 , III 24 (2x), III 32, III 35.1 (2x), III 41 , III 44.1 , III 44.3. See also deliberate 
deed,* opera, I 5.2, I 24.1 (4x), I 24.2 (2x), I 33.2, I 53.5, II 11.2, III 1.2 (2x), III 1.3, III 3, III 

8.1, III 12.1 (2x), III 15.2, III 28, III 30 T, III 34.2 (3x). See also work; cf do 

defeat (v.), defeated, rompere, * rotto* I 31.2 (2x), I 47.2,1 53.2, I 53.3, I 53.5, I 59 (2x), II 4.1, 

II 10.1, II 12.3, II 12.4 (3x), II 15.2, II 16.2 (3x), II 18.2, II 18.4, II 20, II 22.1, II 22.2, II 27.1, 


II 27.4, II 29.2, III 9.1, III 10.2, III 10.4 (2x), III 18.1 (2x), III 18.2 (2x), III 19.1, III 25, III 

34.3, III 35.1, III 35.3, III 43, III 48.1; defeat (v.), vincere* 1 Pr.l, II 16.1, II 18.3, II 18.4, II 

19.1, II 33, III 32; defeat (n.), rotta, I 11.1,1 15 (2x), 147.2,153.2, II 1.1 (2x), II 2.3, II 6.2, II 

10.3, II 12.4, II 13.2, II 30.4 (3x), II 32.2 (2x), III 17, III 31.2 (3x), III 31.3 (2x), III 37.4. For 
vincere, see also conquer 

defend, difendere, I 1.1,1 1.4,1 2.3,1 5.2,1 6.2,1 7.1 (2x), I 7.3,1 10.4 (2x), I 10.5,1 12.2, I 29.2, 

I 29.3 (2x), I 34.4,1 37.2 (2x), I 37.3, I 38.1 (3x), I 38.2 (2x), I 39.2, I 40.6(2x), I 45.1, I 46 
(2x), I 49.1,1 53.5,1 58.1 (2x), I 59, II 1.2, II 1.3, II 2 T, II 2.1 (3x), II 2.2, II 2.4, II 4.2, II 8.2, 

II 9 (9x), II 10.1 (4x), II 11.1, II 11.2 (2x), II 12.1, II 12.4 (3x), II 13.2 (2x), II 17.1 (5x), II 

17.2 (3x), II 17.3 (2x), II 17.4, II 17.5 (2x), II 18.3, II 19.1, II 20 (4x), II 22.1, II 24.1 (3x), II 

24.2 (5x), II 24.4 (4x), II 29.1 (2x), II 29.2, II 30.2 (2x), II 32.1, III 6.8, III 8.1, III 11.1, III 

12.1 (2x), III 12.2, III 12.3, III 15.1, III 16.2, III 16.3, III 20, III 28, III 30.1, III 30.2 (3x), III 

31.1, III 32, III 34.2, III 34.3, III 35.2, III 37.3 (2x), III 37.4 (4x), III 41 T (2x), III 41 (3x), III 
43; defender, difensore, I 23.1, I 45.1, II 10.1, II 14, II 32.1, III 8.1 (2x), III 12.2; defense, 
difesa, difensione, defensivo, defensa (L), I 1.1, I 1.3, I 6.4, I 7.2 (2x), I 15 (L), I 16.2, I 21.1, I 

27.1.1 33.5,138.2,1 56,1 57,11 1.1,112.1,11 2.2 (2x), II 9 (2x), II 10.1, II 11.2 (2x), II 17.1, 
II 17.1, II 19.1, II 20 (2x), II 24.4, II 25.1, II 27.2, II 29.2, III 12.1 (2x), III 16.2, III 22.1, III 
30 T, III 30.2, III 31.1, III 37.4; undefended, indifeso, III 37.3 

degree,* grado, I 2.1 (2x), I 2.3 (2x), I 2.7,1 18.1. See also condition; favor; rank 

deliberate, diliberare, I 6.1 III 6.7, III 41, III 44.1, III 44.3; deliberation, diliberazione, I 6.3, II 

23.3, See also decide 

delight, dilettarsi, delizia, dilettazione, diletti, 1 Pr.2,1 27.1, 1 Pr.3, II 19.2, II 20, III 2 (2x) 
demonstrate, dimostrare, 12.7,1 3.1,14.1,1 6.4,1 7.1,1 9.2,1 12.1,1 16.1,1 27.2,1 44.1,149.1,1 

53.2, I 57, II 1.1, II 3 (2x), II 13.2, II 15.2, II 17.4, II 18.1, II 18.3, II 21.2, II 24.2, II 27.1 
(2x), II 29.1 (2x), II 31.1, III 1.6, III 6.15, III 14.1, III 15.2 (3x), III 20, III 37.4; 
demonstration, dimostrazione, I 40.2,1 52.1 

deserve, meritare, mereor (L), DL, I 2.6, I 4.2, I 8.1, I 9.2, I 9.5, I 10.1, I 10.4, I 10.6, I 34.3, I 

47.1 (4x), 1 Pr.l (2x), 1 Pr.3, II 19.2, II 23.2, II 23.4 (L), II 27.1, II 29.1, II 33 (3x), III 2, III 

6.3, III 6.11, III 10.1, III 16.2 (2x), III 18.1, III 19.1 (2x), III 32, III 33.2, III 34.2, III 34.4, III 
41, III 49.2, III 49.3, III 49.4; deservedly, meritamente, I 47.1; undeservedly, immeritamente, III 

16.2, See also merit 

desire (n.), desiderio, desiderium (L), 1 Pr.l, I 4.1,1 5.2 (2x), I 6.2,1 9.4,1 10.6,1 16.5 (2x), I 37.1 
(2x), I 39.1,140.5 (3x), 140.7 (2x), 144.2,1 45.1,1 46,147.1,1 58.1 (L), I 58.2, II 3, II 10.1, 
II 15.1, II 32.2, III 6.2 (2x), III 6.3 (3x), III 7, III 19.1, III 21.2, III 22.3, III 48.1, III 48.2; 
desire (v.), desired, desiderare, desiderato, desidero (L), DL, I 5.2 (2x), I 5.4 (2x), I 6.1, I 6.2, I 

8.3.1 9.1,1 9.4 (2x), I 10.6 (2x), I 16.5 (5x), I 25 (3x), I 37.1 (2x), I 37.2, I 40.4 (L), I 40.5, I 
53 T, I 53.1,1 53.4,158.1 (2x), I 58.2 (3x), 1 Pr.2, 1 Pr.3 (2x), II 9, II 14, II 19.2, II 22.1 (2x), 
II 23.2, III 1.3, III 1.6, III 2, III 6.1 (2x), III 6.2, III 6.10, III 8.2, III 12.1 (2x), III 12.2, III 

16.3, III 20, III 21.2, III 21.3 (2x), III 22.1, III 44.1; desired, desideroso, I 37.2; desirable, 
desiderabile, II 2.3, III 22.4, III 25; desirous, desideroso, I 8.1,1 38.3, II 4.2, III 8.1, III 18.3, III 

19.1, III 21.2, III 37.4 

devices, industrie, II 1.2, II 32.1, III 6.19, III 27.4. See also industry 
devotion, divozione, I 12.1,1 12.2, II 27.4 

dictator, Dittatore, dictator (L), I 5.4 (3x), I 8.1 (4x), I 13.1, I 31.2, I 33.1, I 33.5, I 34.1 (4x), I 

34.2, I 34.3, I 34 4 (2x), I 35 (4x), I 40.7, I 49.1, I 49.3, I 50 (2x), I 58.2, II 29.1, II 33, III 

10.1 (L), III 14.3 (3x), III 15.1, III 25, III 28 (2x), III 30.1 (2x), III 33.1, III 47 (2x); 
dictatorial, dittatorio, I 34 T, I 34.1 (2x); dictatorship, dittatura, dictatura (L), I 5.4, I 30.2, I 

34.2, III 25, III 31.1 (L) 


die, dead, morire, mono, I 2.1, I 3.2, I 10.4 (2x), I 11.5 (2x), I 13.2, I 15, I 17.1 (4x), I 17.3, I 

22.1.1 29.2 (2x), I 43,1 58.2, II 10.2, II 12.4, II 15.2, II 16.2, II 17.1, II 17.4 (4x), II 18.3 (2x), 
II 22.1, II 22.2 (2x), II 29.2, II 30.3, III 2, III 6.2, III 6.11 (2x), III 6.18 (2x), III 6.20 (2x), III 
12.3,111 13.1 (2x), III 17,11130.1 (2x), III 41.1, ID 45.1. See also death; kill 

dignity, dignitci, degnita, dignitas (L), I 6.2,1 13.2,147.3,1 55.6,1 58.3, II 21.1, III 22.4 (L), III 31 
T, III 31.4. Cf disdain; indignation; worthy 
disciples, discepoli, III 6.16 

discipline, discipline, discipline (L), II 16.2, II 19.2, II 29.1, III 22.3, III 36.2, III 38.1 (L) 
discord, discordant, discordare, discordia, discordo, I 1.4, I 8.1, I 10.5, I 46, I 50 (2x), II 19.2, II 

21.2, III 8.2 

discourse (v.), discorrere, DL, I 1.1,1 1.6,1 2.2, I 2.7 (2x), I 4.1, I 5.2, I 5.4, I 6.1, I 6.4, I 7.5, I 

12.2.1 14.1,1 16.2,1 16.6,1 29.1,1 29.3,1 31.1,1 33.5, I 35 (2x), I 37.3 (2x), I 40.1, I 47.3, I 

56.1 58.3, II 1.3, II 4.2, II 6.1 (2x), II 8.1, II 10.3, II 13.2, II 15.2, II 16.1, II 19.1, II 19.2, II 
20, II 21.1, II 22.1, II 23.4, II 24.1, II 25.1, II 26, II 29.2, II 31.2, II 32.2; discourse (n.), 
discorso, DL, 1 Pr.l, I 1.6,1 16.5,1 18.1,1 19.3,129.3,1 37.1,140.1,1 40.7 (2x), 148,1 49.2, I 

52.1.1 53.1,1 55.5, 1 Pr.3 (2x), II 1.1, II 17.6, II 20, II 23.4, II 25.1, II 30.5, II 31.1, III 1.6, III 
3, III 6.4 (2x), III 6.11, III 6.19, III 8.1, III 8.2, III 9.3, III 9.4, III 10.1, III 11.1, III 11.2, III 

12.1, III 12.2, III 16.3, III 19.1, III 20, III 21.4, III 22.3, III 22.6, III 27.3, III 28, III 33.1, III 
34.4, III 35.1, III 37.1, III 37.4, III 38.1, III 40.1, III 40.2. For discorrere, see also discuss; review 

discuss, discorrere, I 33.2, I 55.1; discuss, ragionare, I 13.2, II 4.2; discussion, ragionamento, III 
6.5, III 6.16. For discorrere, see also discourse; review; for ragionare, see also reason; for 
ragionamento, see also argument; reason 
disdain, sdegno, I 34.4,1 36 T. See also indignation; (/dignity; worthy 

dispute (v.), disputant* I 5.4,1 11.2,1 29.1,140.1,140.3,1 46,1 58.4,1 60 (2x), II 1.3, II 12.1, II 

16.3, II 17.1, II 17.5, II 24.2, II 27.1, III 6.18, III 16.1, III 27.2, III 42; dispute (n.), disputa, 
disputazione, I 22,1 37.2,1 40.2,1 53.1, II 15.1, II 15.2; disputable, disputabile, III 22.4 

dissension, dissensione, I 5.2,1 6.4,1 7.5, III 21.4 
divine, divino, I 11.4,1 12.1, II 29.1 
diviner, indovino, I 12.1,1 56 

do,* operare, 1 Pr.2,1 33.2, III 43.1. See also work; cf deed 
doctor, dottore, III 1.2. (/physician 

dominate, dominare, dominor (L), I 5.2 (2x), I 58.1 (L), I 58.2 (2x), II 4.2, III 6.3 (2x), III 12.1 
dominion, dominio, I 6.3, I 6.4, I 12.2, II 1.2, II 2.1 (2x), II 4.1, II 4.2 (2x), II 18.3, II 19.2, II 

21.2, II 27.3 (2x), III 18.3, III 44.3 (3x) 

doubt (v.), dubitare, dubito (L), I 5.1,1 11.2,1 22,1 57, II 5.2, II 14.1 (L), III 7; doubt (n.), dubbio, 

I 38.4 (2x), II 32.2, III 16.3; doubt, dubitazione, III 22.4; doubtful, dubbio, I 5.2, II 10.2, II 
15.1, II 32.1, II 33, III 6.15, III 17, III 44.2; without doubt, sanza or senza dubbio, DL, I 1.4, I 10.6,1 11.3,1 12.1,1 19.2,1 30.1,145.3,158.3,11 1.1, II 2.1, II 2.2, II 12.4, 

II 15.1, II 19.2, II 21.2 (4x), II 24.3, III 1.5, III 4, III 8.2, III 11.2, III 27.2. For dubitare, see also 
fear; hesitate; suspect 

duty,* ufficio, offizio, I 14.2,1 40.6, 1 Pr.3. See also office 

earth, terra, II 12.2 (3x), II 32.1 (4x), III 2.1, III 12.3, III 25.1. See also ground; land; town 
education, educazione, 14.1 (2x), I 11.1, II 2.2 (2x), III 27.2, III 30.1, III 31.3, III 43.1, III 46.1 
effect, ejfetto, 13.2,14.1,14.2,15.2,16.1 (2x), 17.1 (2x), I 9.2 (2x), I 14.2,1 19.4,120 T, 135, I 58.2,1 58.3,160 (2x), II 4.2, II 5.2, II 17.4, II 17.5, II 24.2, II 24.3, III 1.2, III 1.3 
(2x), III 1.5, III 1.6 (2x), III 2.1, III 5.1, III 6.11, III 6.15, III 13.1, III 14 T, III 14.1, III 18.3, 


Ill 21 T, III 21.1 (2x), III 21.4, III 22.1, III 22.3, III 22.4 (2x), III 22.5, III 25.1 (2x), III 28.1, 
III 37.1, III 37.3, III 43.1, III 49.3 

effeminate, effeminato, I 6.4,1 19.1,1 19.3,1 21.3, II 2.2, III 10.1, III 46.1 
efficacious, efficacio, II 29.1, III 6.11, III 14.3; efficacy, efficacia, III 38.1 

elect, eleggere, I 20, I 34.4 (2x), II 8.1, II 29.2; election, elezione, I 13.1, I 35, III 25.1, III 34.4. 
See also choose; levy 

elephants, elefanti, II 17.5 (2x), II 18.4, III 14.3 (2x) 

eliminate, spegnere, I 1.4 (2x), I 2.3 (3x), I 7.3 (2x), I 10.5, I 16.6, I 17.1 (3x), I 30.1, I 33.3, I 

33.5.1 37.3,1 39.2,140.4,1 40.5 (3x), I 40.7 (2x), I 43, I 46, I 47.1, I 52.3, I 55.5, 1 Pr.l, II 

1.1 (2x), II 1.2, II 2.2, II 4.2 (2x), II 5 T, II 5.1 (5x), II 5.2 (2x), II 8.1 (2x), II 19.2, II 23.2, II 

23.3, II 23.4 (2x), II 24.1, III 1.3, III 1.4 (2x), III 3.1, III 24.1, III 29.1, III 30 T, III 30.1 (4x), 
III 33.1 

emperor, imperadore, I 10.4 (4x), I 10.5, I 29.2, I 30.1, I 58.2, II 11.1, II 19.2 (5x), II 22.1, II 

30.2 (2x), III 6.3, III 6.8, III 6.10, III 6.11 (2x), III 31.3, III 43.1 (2x). See also command 

empire, imperio, 1 Pr.2,1 1.1,11.2,11.3 (2x), I 1.5, I 2.7, I 4.1, I 5.3, I 6.3 (2x), I 9.4, I 10.3, I 

10.4 (3x), I 11.1,1 12.2,1 13.1,1 17.3,1 21.3, I 29.1, I 29.3, I 33.1 (2x), I 34.3, I 39.2 (2x), I 

49.2.1 50, 1 Pr.2 (3x), 1 Pr.3, II 1 T, II 1.1 (2x), II 1.2, II 1.3, II 2.2 (3x), II 3 (3x), II 4.1 (5x), 
II 4.2 (2x), II 8.1 (3x), II 8.2, II 8.4, II 9, II 12.1, II 13.1 (3x), II 19.1, II 19.2 (5x), II 21.1, II 
30.2 (2x), II 30.3 (2x), III 6.1, III 6.3, III 6.10, III 6.11. See also command; rule; cf imperial 

enroll,* scrivere, III 30.1 (2x), III 30.2 (4x). See also write 

enterprise, impresa, 1 Pr.2,1 11.1,1 11.4,1 13 T, I 13.1 (3x), I 14.1,1 18.5, I 23.4, I 27.2, I 43, I 

53.5 (3x), II 13, II 4.1, II 9, II 11.1, II 11.2, II 22.1 (2x), II 25.1, II 31.1, II 31.2 (2x), II 32.1 
(2x), III 6.1, III 6.3, III 6.4, III 6.16, III 6.17, III 6.19, III 6.20, III 8.1, III 8.2 (4x), III 9.3, III 

16.1 (2x), III 35.1, III 35.2, III 37.3. See also campaign 

envy, envious, invidia, invidiare, invido, 1 Pr.l, I 8.1, I 24.2, I 40.4, I 52.2, I 53.3, 1 Pr.l (2x), II 

13.2 (2x), II 14, II 19.2, II 22.1, III 1.2, III 5.1, III 6.19, III 8.1, III 16.1, III 30 T, III 30.1 

ephors, efori, I 9.4 (2x), I 18.5 
episcopal, episcopale, I 54. O'bishop 
epoch, secolo, 1 Pr.3. See also century 

equal, equally, equate, equalmente, agguagliare, aequus (L), aequalis (L), I 6.1,1 6.2,1 17.3,1 40.4, I 
58.2, I 58.3, 1 Pr.3, II 2.4, II 4.1, II 12.1, II 13.2 (L), II 23.2, II 32.1 (2x), III 16.1 (2x), III 

19.1, III 22.4 (L), III 23.1; equality, equalitd, I 2.3,1 6.2 (2x), I 55 T, I 55.3,1 55.4,1 55.5 (2x), 

I 55.6, II 4.1, III 3.1; inequality, inequalitd, I 17.3,1 55.6 

err (v.), errare, I 24.2, I 29.3, I 36, I 42, I 58.2 (2x), I 58.3 (2x), 1 Pr.2, II 11.2, II 19.1, II 23.3 
(2x), II 27.1, II 29.1, II 31.2, III 9.1 (2x), III 18.1, III 34.4, III 49.1 (2x), III 49.2 (3x); error 
(n.), errore, DL (3x), 1 Pr.2, I 28 (2x), I 29.1, I 29.3 (2x), I 31 T, I 31.1, I 31.2 (2x), I 33.1, I 

33.2 (2x), I 33.3, I 36 (2x), I 39.2 (2x), I 40.1 (2x), I 40.3, I 40.4, I 40.5 (2x), I 40.7 (3x), I 
49.1,1 52.2 (2x), I 53.2,1 58.2 (2x), 158.4 (2x), 159, II 1.2 (2x), II 11.1 (2x), II 18.3, II 18.5, 

II 19.2 (2x), II 27.4 (2x), II 31.2, II 32.1, II 33, III 1.4, III 5.1, III 6.8, III 6.12, III 6.13, III 
6.14 (2x), III 6.18, III 10.1 (3x), III 16.2, III 18.1 (5x), III 18.2, III 21.3, III 27.2, III 29.1, III 

32.1, III 33.1, III 34.4, III 35.3, III 48 T, III 48.1 
eternal, etemo, I 27.2,1 29.1, II 5.1. Cf. sempiternal 

evil, male* 1 Pr.2,1 2.3 (2x), I 8.3,1 9.2,1 10.3,1 18.4,1 26, I 29.3, I 33.2, I 33.5 (3x), I 37.1, I 

37.3 (2x), 144.2,145.3,146,158.4 (2x), II 2.1, II 12.2, II 15.2, II 20, II 24.1, II 24.3, II 28.1, 
II 29.1, III 1.3, III 1.4 (3x), III 3.1 (3x), III 6.14, III 11.1, III 37.1, III 37.3. See also bad; ill; cf 

exalt, esaltare, I 10.5, III 21.3, III 31.1; exaltation, esaltazione, I 37.1, II 2.2, II 19 T, III 21.4 


example, esemplo, essemplum, exemplum (L), passim 

excellent, eccellente, I 1.4,1 19 T, I 19.2 (2x), I 20,1 21.1,1 28, 1 34.3, 1 Pr.2, II 5.1, II 18.2 (2x), 

II 19.2, II 22.1 (2x), II 24.4, II 31.2, III 22.1, III 30.1, III 31 T, III 31.1 

excess, excessive, excesso, eccessivo,* I 19.4,140.7,1 55.4 (2x), II 2.1, II 4.1, III 1.3, III 19.1, III 

21.3, III 22.3, III 26.2 

excuse (n .), scusa, 19.2,19.5,1 10.6 (2x), 129.1 (2x), I 29.3,141,1 52.2, II 19.1, II 19.2, III 2.1, 

III 6.18 (2x), III 44.3; excuse (v.), scasare I 9.2 (2x), 145.2 (2x), II 16.3 

execute, esequire, 133.1,149.3, II 2.1, II 15.1, III 1.3, III 6.2 (2x), III 6.7 (3x), III 6.11, III 6.12 
(3x), III 6.14, III 6.19 (3x), III 6.20, III 30.1; execution, esecuzione, I 7.2, 1 49.3, III 13 (5x), III 

I. 5, III 3.1, III 6.2 (3x), III 6.3 (3x), III 6.5, III 6.6, III 6.7 (2x), III 6.8, III 6.12, III 6.13, III 
6.14 (2x), III 6.15, III 6.16 (2x), III 6.18 (2x), III 6.19 (2x), III 6.20, III 27.2, III 32.1, III 49.1, 
III 49.2 

expand, ampliare, I 1.4,1 6.4 (5x), I 10.1,1 16.2,1 33.5, II 2.1 (2x), II 3, II 4 T, II 4.1 (3x), II 4.2 
(2x), II 6.1, II 19.1 (2x), II 19.2 (3x), II 21.1; expansion, ampliare, I 6.3, I 6.4, II 23.2; 
expansive, amplo, I 49.2, 1 Pr. 1 

experience, esperienza, isperienza, 1 Pr.l, I 3.1, I 6.4, I 12.2 (2x), I 23.4, I 34.2, I 38.3, I 46, I 
53.2, I 55.6, II 2.1, II 4.1, II 4.2, II 17.5, II 22.1, II 22.2, II 24.2, II 24.4, II 27.4, II 30.4, III 
6.8, III 6.15, III 6.20, III 10.2, III 25.1, III 34.4, III 37.2; experienced, isperimentato, III 6.15. 
See also experiment 

experiment, esperienza, isperienza, 1 Pr.2, III 6.4 (3x), III 31.4. See also experience 
external,* estemo, extemis (L), I 2.1, I 7.5, I 10.5, I 15 (L), II 4.1, II 24.4, III 6.19, III 26.2. See 
also foreign 

extinguish, estinguere, I 17.1,1 33.2, II 2.1, II 4.2, II 25.1, III 3 

extraordinary, straordinario, istraordinario, I 4.1, I 5.4 (3x), I 7.1 (2x), I 7.3 (2x), I 7.5, I 9.2, I 

II. 3,1 11.5,1 16.4,1 17.3,1 18.4,129.3,1 33.2,1 34.1, I 34.2, I 34.3 (3x), I 37.3 (2x), I 56, I 
59, II 2.1, II 16.1, II 17.4, II 29.1, III 3.1, III 5.1, III 6.8, III 6.16, III 8.1, III 21.4, III 22.3 (2x), 
III 34.1, III 34.2 (2x), III 35 T, III 38.1, III 49.1; extraordinarily, straordinariamente, 
straordinario, I 7.3, 1 16.4,1 31 T, III 19.1, III 34.2 

extreme (adj.),* estremo* I 15 T, I 16.5, I 17.3, 1 Pr.2, II 2.2, II 18.3, II 23.2, II 31.1, III 17.1; 
extreme (n.),* termine, * II 18.1, II 23.2 (3x), III 27.2, III 38.1; extremities, estremita, II 30.3, II 

30.4. For termine, (/middle 

extrinsic, estrinseco, 131.1,1 33.2 (2x), II 32.2, III 1.2 (2x), III 1.6. See also foreign 


faction, fazione, I 7.1,1 37.2,1 54. See also struggle 

faith, fede, fides (L), 14.1,1 11.5,138.3 (2x), 153.1 (2x), I 59 (lOx), II 5.1, II 9, II 10.1, II 19.1 
(2x), II 23.4 (L), II 24.3, II 31.1 (3x), III 6.3, III 6.4 (5x), III 6.9, III 6.18, III 16.1, III 21.4 
(2x), III 40.1, III 43 (3x), III 48.1; faithful, fedele, infede, fidelis (L), fidus (L), I 43 T, I 43, II 

10.1 (2x), II 17.2, II 23.4 (L)(2x), II 24.1, III 6.4, III 21.4, III 48.2; faithlessness, infidelitd, 
infidelta, II 4.2, II 9, II 32.1, III 21.1, III 43. For fede, see also credit; pledge; vouch; (/trust 

fame, fama, I 10.1, I 19.1, I 27.1, I 52.2, 1 Pr.l, II 11.1, III 20 (3x), III 34 T, III 34.2 (2x), III 

34.3, III 34.4, III 37.2. See also rumor; (/infamy 
family, famiglia, I 15, II 8.1, II 8.2, III 46 T, III 46 (3x) 
fancy, fantasia, III 6.12. Cf image 

fate, sorte, I 16.1,1 53.1,1 54,1 59 (2x), II 2.1, II 13.2, II 16.1, II 18.3, III 3, III 6.1, III 16.3, III 

31.1 , III 31.2, III 31.3. See also lot; luck; sort 

father , padre, 13.1,1 11.1 (3x), I 19.2 (4x), I 22,1 26,1 31.2,140.4, II 24.2,1128.2,111 1.6,111 2, 
III 3, III 4, III 6.2, III 10.2, III 22.1 (2x), III 26.1, III 34.1 (2x), III 34.2 (3x), III 34.3 (2x), III 

37.4, III 40.2, III 45; Fathers (of the Roman Senate), Padri, I 8.1, I 49.1, III 5, III 8.1. Cf 
parricide; patrimony 

fatherland, patria, patria (L), 1 Pr.2, I 9.2, I 9.4, I 10.1, I 10.2 (2x), I 11.1 (3x), I 16.4, I 16.5, I 

23.1.1 31.2,1 57,1 58.3,1 59,1 60, II 2.1 (2x), II 2.2, II 6.1, II 8.3, II 19.2 (L), II 20, II 24.2, II 

24.3 (2x), II 27.4 (4x), II 29.2, II 31.1 (4x), III 2, III 3 (3x), III 5, III 6.1, III 6.2 (3x), III 6.7, 
III 6.16 (3x), III 6.19 (5x), III 8.1 (3x), III 9.3 (2x), III 11.2, III 13.3, III 22.1, III 22.6 (2x), III 
23 (2x), III 24, III 30.1 (3x), III 41 T, III 41 (4x), III 46, III 47 T, III 47, III 48.2. Cf ancestral 

fault, colpa, incolpare, I 8.3,1 14.2,1 21.1,1 22, 1 52.8, III 6.14, III 42; fault, fallo, I 22,1 24.1 
favor (n.), favore, I 2.7,14.1,1 12.1,1 13.2,1 14.2,1 18.3,129.3,1 33.2 (2x), I 33.3, I 33.4, I 35, 

I 37.3,140.3, I 40.5 (2x), I 40.6, I 41, I 49.3, I 52.2 (2x), I 52.3 (2x), I 55.5, II 1.2, II 14, II 

15.1, II 22.1, II 25.1 (3x), II 27.3, III 6.20, III 8.1 (4x), III 8.2 (2x), III 14.1, III 14.3, III 22.1, 
III 22.4, III 26.1 (2x), III 28 (2x), III 34.4 (2x); favor (n.), grade, I 51 (3x), III 22.3, III 28; 
favor (n), grazia, I 18.3 (2x), III 6.19, III 16 T, III 16.2; favors (n.), piaceri, III 6.3; favor (v.), 
favorire, 18.3,1 12.1 (2x), I 16.5,1 33.2,133.4,137.2,140.5 (2x), I 52.1,1 52.2 (2x), II 1.1, II 

10.2, II 15.2, II 25.1, III 6.10, III 8.1 (2x), III 21.1, III 28, III 34 T; favorable, favorevole, I 2.7, 
III 2, III 42; favorite, favorito, III 6.10; unfavorable, disfavore, I 4.1, I 36, I 40.1 (2x); disfavor, 
mal grado, I 53.3. For grado, see also condition; degree; rank; for grazia, see also grace; grateful; 
for piaceri, see also pleasure 

fear (v.), avere paura, I 3.2, I 46 (2x), I 58.4, II 1.2, II 24.1, III 12.2 (2x), III 49.2; fear (v.), 
dubitare, I 30.2,1 32,148, 1 Pr.3, II 2.3, II 10.1, II 25.1, II 33, III 6.8, III 36.2, III 47; fear (v.), 
temere, timeo (L), I 1.4, I 2.3 (2x), I 5.4, I 6.2 (2x), I 6.4, I 11.1, I 13.2 (2x), I 16.3, I 24.1, I 

29.3 (2x), I 33.4,1 36,1 37.1,140.4 (L), I 46 (2x), I 55.1,1 58.4 (4x), II 10.2, II 12 T, II 21.2, 
III 1.4, III 5, III 6.3, III 6.11 (2x), III 6.18, III 12.1 (2x), III 13.2, III 16.2, III 19.1, III 21.2 
(2x), III 21.3 (2x), III 21.4, III 30.1, III 32, III 33.1, III 48.2; fear (n.), paura, 13.2 (3x), I 5.4, I 

6.4, I 7.1, I 7.2 (2x), I 7.3, I 7.4, I 8.2, I 12.2, I 15 (2x), I 18.3 (3x), I 29.3, I 33.2, I 33.3, I 

33.4 (2x), I 40.4 (2x), I 47.2, I 58.4 (2x), II 14 (2x), II 24.1, II 25.1, II 32.1, III 1.3 (2x), III 

6.4, III 21.4, III 25, III 32, III 33.1, III 37.3, III 37.4; fear (n.), tenia, II 31.2; fear (n.), timore, I 

2.3.1 8.2,1 10.4,1 11.1 (2x), I 11.4 (2x), I 13.2,1 15,1 52.2,1 59 (2x), 1 Pr.l, II 13.2, II 19.2, 

II 24.3, III 6.6, III 21.2, III 22.6; fearful, pauroso, impaurito, I 15, I 45.3, III 11.1; fearfully, 
trepidamente, III 44.3. For dubitare, see also doubt; hesitate; suspect; for paura and temere, see also 

ferocious, feroce, ferox (L), I 11.1, I 16.1, I 46, I 57 (L), II 2.2 (2x), III 12.2, III 13.1, III 20, III 

36.1 (2x), III 37.4, III 38.1 (L); ferocity, ferocita I 15,1 19.1,1 19.3, II 2.2, III 36.1, III 37.4, III 


fever, febbre, I 39.2 

fight (v.), azzuffarsi, venire alia zuffa, I 14.2,1 14.3 (2x), I 53.2 (2x), I 56